Thirty years after the nation's worst nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island, U.S. lawmakers are back to praising nuclear power as a safe, alternative energy source to foreign oil.

When a nuclear reactor's water pump malfunctioned at the Three Mile plant near Harrisburg, Pa., on March 28, 1979, faith in nuclear energy shattered and the industry spiraled into a meltdown.

The accident caused nuclear power costs to skyrocket and prompted plans for new plants to be scrapped.

Now, three decades later, fears about climate change have prompted American leaders to once again tout nuclear power as a good source of energy and one that can wean the country off its dependence on oil from overseas.

Officials point to the fact that it's the only major form of power that is free of emissions, capable of generating large quantities of electricity and reliable and effective in all sorts of weather.

Lawmakers insist they've learned from the massive Three Mile Island mistake and have since been placing a greater emphasis on nuclear plant safety, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The industry has expanded by spending $4 billion and generating 15,000 jobs in recent years, Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Tom Kauffman told the newspaper. Seventeen companies have applied with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build 26 reactors.

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