Last week Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) chaired the first in a series of Environment and Public Works Committee hearings on the upcoming climate bill, expected to hit the Senate floor in August.

Many have speculated that the Waxman-Markey bill, which narrowly passed the House, would have much more difficult time in the Senate, even with Sen. Al Franken finally taking his seat as the junior senator from Minnesota.

But Grist conjectures that the energy and climate bill may not face such tough opposition, provided there is one major inclusion -- perks for the nuclear industry.

Both Senators Crapo and Carper stressed that nuclear energy would have to be a key component of the bill, describing it as a "cheap" source of carbon-neutral power. 

Sen. Alexander chimed in saying, "If we really want to deal with global warming, we only have one option ... to double nuclear power plants."

As Climate Progress reports, Senator Boxer quickly responded by calling out the senator's error, "I agree on the importance of nuclear power, but it’s NOT cheap."

When you factor in construction, maintenance  and annual downtime costs for currently scaled nuclear power plants, the industry offers anything but a "cheap" alternative to fossil fuels. And then you have to factor in nuclear's dual Achilles' heal -- dependence upon an unending and cheap supply of cold water for cooling, and that ever elusive "safe" containment facility for radioactive nuclear waste.

So kudos to Boxer for finally calling out the rhetoric. But it isn't likely that she or anyone in the Senate will be able to do much about excluding it from the upcoming bill.

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Senator Boxer's nuclear smack-down
Sen. Barbara Boxer calls out rhetoric on 'cheap nuclear' but agrees it's part of the picture.