Bonnie Raitt raises anti-nuke voice

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) -- Rock musicians Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash are putting a new millennium twist on their 1970s anti-nuclear message, urging the U.S. Congress Tuesday not to approve government loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.

Nearly 30 years ago, the three musicians were prominent in the anti-nuke movement, helping organize "No Nukes" concerts at Madison Square Garden that stirred public opposition to nuclear power.

Now they have the Internet to help spread their message. In addition to an online petition against the loan guarantees, they've produced a music video found on YouTube of their take on the Stephen Stills' song "For What It's Worth."

"It's been kind of an emergency room effort in the past three weeks to get this petition up and running and the You Tube song recorded," Raitt told The ShowBuzz. "With the power of the Internet we got 120,000 signatures in a week by the time we presented it to Congress yesterday, which is astonishing."

On Tuesday, the three musicians were in Congress warning that a Senate version of a new energy bill contains a provision, backed by the nuclear industry, for loan guarantees that could serve as a "virtual blank check from taxpayers" to help build more nuclear plants.

The loan guarantee provision, they said, mars an otherwise attractive bill that supports renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency standards.

They musicians have backing from environmental groups and dozens of artists such as R.E.M., Maroon 5, Ben Harper, Pearl Jam, Patti Smith and Wynton Marsalis.

"We're here to be the town criers to get that information out," Raitt said.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's trade group, scoffed at the objections, saying nuclear energy is on the brink of a revival partly due to increased energy demands and concerns over global warming.

"It's a debate they're going to lose because nuclear energy over the last quarter-century has proven its value to our country," institute spokesman Steve Kerekes told The Associated Press. "It's almost as if they're in a time capsule and they've been transported forward."

"What time capsule did we miss where they learned to save the waste safely and transport it?," Raitt told The ShowBuzz in response to Kerekes comments. "What time capsule did he miss about nuclear terrorism?"

Reps. Edward Markey, a leading Democrat on energy issues, and Rep. John Hall, also a Democrat, said the musicians will provide more lobbying muscle on the energy bill. Hall, once part of the group Orleans, helped organize the 1979 "No Nukes" concerts.

Raitt said that after a busy stretch of touring and recording, she's decided to take some time off and lend her voice to the causes she supports. She's recently contributed to an HIV/AIDs album by Annie Lennox, a theme song for Greenpeace and a tribute to Fats Domino that raised money for Katrina rebuilding.

"I haven't been idle, but I just haven't been focusing on a pop album by me," she said, laughing. "If the world would just get together I could play my guitar for fun, but it just doesn't seem to be happening in the near future."

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The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.