Udall, Mark_With FlagIt’s been a while—a long while—since left-leaning politicians, particularly Democrats like Mark Udall, who was once primarily known for his environmental concerns, have been willing to even utter the words “nuclear energy.”

But Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator, from Boulder County, has not veered an inch from the path he embarked upon earlier this year in support of expanding nuclear power, offering his boldest argument yet yesterday for a new nuclear-energy strategy as a way to combat global warming.

“For some, news that [a] Udall is speaking favorably about nuclear power will come as a stark—and perhaps unpleasant—surprise. But I also believe public and expert opinion on the risks and benefits of nuclear power has changed,” says Udall, who mentioned the 1979 meltdown of the Three Mile Island power plant in a long speech on the Senate floor, (via The Colorado Independent).

Udall has introduced the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act of 2009, and lawmakers are considering measures that aim to put nuclear power on the same footing as renewable energy, according to The Washington Post. It is unclear where it is headed, but many Republicans in the minority, including leaders like Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, are pushing for a big change in the nation’s power grid.

Alexander wants 100 new nuclear plants by 2030—doubling what’s available today—as part of any climate bill. Even President Barack Obama has indicated support for some new nuclear plants.