Italy's newly elected government plans to resume a nuclear energy program more than 20 years after a 1987 referendum led to the shuttering of the four nuclear power plants operating at that time. Economic development minister Claudio Scajola has pledged that construction of the first new nuclear power plants should begin by 2013, or the expected end of the current legislature. "Only nuclear plants will allow us to produce energy on a large scale, in a safe way, at competitive costs and with respect for the environment," Scajola told the annual meeting of Italian industrialists association Confindustria in May. The Italian arm of environmental association Greenpeace says Scajola's comments are a "declaration of war" and highlights the high costs of nuclear energy. "Instead of continuing to lose time on nuclear, it's necessary to make the authorisation process for renewable sources easier and to launch a national plan for energy efficiency," says Giuseppe Onufrio of Greenpeace Italia. Even supporters of Italian nuclear energy believe it will be difficult for the country to overcome public opposition and other obstacles to new nuclear plants.
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