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President Bush at Calvert Cliffs

The following is an excerpt from the speech President Bush delivered today at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, MD:
The energy bill will also help us expand our use of the one energy source that is completely domestic, plentiful in quantity, environmentally friendly, and able to generate massive amounts of electricity, and that's nuclear power. (Applause.)

Today, there are 103 nuclear plants in America. They produce about 20 percent of the nation's electricity without producing a single pound of air pollution or greenhouse gases. I think you told me that 20 percent of all Maryland's electricity is produced here at this plant. Without these nuclear plants, America would released nearly 700 million metric tons more carbon dioxide into the air each year. That's about the same amount of carbon dioxide that now comes from all our cars and trucks.

Across this state, Maryland has looked to Calvert Cliffs to keep their lights on and to keep their land, air and water clean. In other words, you're generating electricity and helping the environment at the same time. That's an important combination of talents and -- it's an important combination of -- that the American people have got to understand it's possible when we expand nuclear power.

Nuclear power is one of America's safest sources of energy. People out here practice a lot of safety, they're good at it. You've got nuclear engineers and experts that spend a lot of time maintaining a safe environment. Just ask the people that work here. You wouldn't be coming here if it wasn't safe, I suspect. (Laughter.)

Some Americans remember the problems of the nuclear plants -- that the nuclear plants had back in the 1970s. We all remember those days. That frightened a lot of folks. People have got to understand that advances in sciences and engineering and plant design have made nuclear plants far safer, far safer than ever before. Workers and managers are trained and committed and spend hours working on nuclear safety, and that's good. And they do such a good job here at Calvert Cliffs that this was the first nuclear plant in America to gets its operating license renewed. And I congratulate you. (Applause.)

There is a growing consensus that more nuclear power will lead to a cleaner, safer nation. Slowly but surely, people are beginning to look at the facts. One of the reasons I've come to this plant is to help people understand the difference between fact and fiction. Yet, even though there has been a growing consensus over time, America has not ordered a nuclear plant since the 1970s. By contrast, France has built 58 nuclear plants in the same period of time. By contrast, China now has eight nuclear plants in the works and plans to build at least 40 more over the next two decades.

In the 21st century, our nation will need more electricity, more safe, clean, reliable electricity. It is time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again. (Applause.)

We're taking practical steps to encourage new construction of power plants. Three years ago, we launched the Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative, which is a $1.1 billion partnership between government and industry to coordinate the ordering of new plants. The Department of Energy is working with Congress to reduce uncertainty in the nuclear plant licensing process. Look, you don't want to go out and build a plant, spend all the money, and have the license jerked at the last minute. (Laughter.) Nobody's going to spend money if that's the case.

And so we want to have a rational way to move forward, and one rational way to move forward is to provide incentives for new construction such as federal risk insurance, to help the builders of the first four plants -- that's what's now embedded in the energy bill -- first four plants against lawsuits and bureaucratic obstacles and other delays beyond their control. In other words, there's a rational approach for the federal government -- on the one hand, to convince the American people nuclear power is safe, that it makes sense for our consumers, it makes sense for the long-term economic security of our country to expand nuclear power; and on the other hand, say to those who are risking capital, here's some help, here's some ways we can provide incentive for you to move forward with the construction of plants.
To read the entire wavefront of news coverage on the President's speech, click here for a Google News search. And judging by some of the clips, it looks like the President's message got through.

UPDATE: For a video report from Baltimore's WBAL-TV, click here. NEI's own Steve Kerekes will be interviewed on WAVA-FM here in Washington at 6:15 p.m. EDT. Click here to listen live. And finally, look for a piece on nuclear energy on tonight's edition of NBC Nightly News.

BLOGOSPHERE REACTION UPDATE: Jason Cuevas liked what he heard from the President today:
I totally agree that we need to build more nuclear plants. There is an enviromental issue of radioactive waste, but it is not as big an issue as what oil and coal do to our enviroment. Not to mention that they are resources that will run out while nuclear power is endless. We need to find other sources for more of our power and nuclear power really is the most viable option.
Over at Truth in Politics, Joe is offering up an interesting deal:
But I'm fine with more nuclear power plants as long as they match it with renewable resources. If they construct 1 Megawatt of nuclear production, I want another 1 Megawatt of wind production, by the same folks.
Unfortunately, one megawatt of nuclear electric generating capacity and one megawatt of wind electric generating capacity are not the same. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, you need to understand operational efficiency:
Operational Efficiency is measured using a measure called capacity factor. Capacity factor is the ratio of the total electricity that a plant produced during a year compared to the total potential electricity that would have been produced if the plant operated at 100 percent power during every hour of the year. It is essentially the percentage of electricity that a plant produced compared to the electricity that it could have produced operating constantly at peak output.
In 2004, according to the Energy Information Administration, the capacity factor of nuclear energy averaged 90.5 percent. Wind energy's capacity factor was only 32.1 percent. So, roughly, one megawatt of nuclear is about three times as efficient as wind.

Here's another way to look at it. According to my colleague David Bradish, replacing a typical nuclear power plant of 1,000 megawatts capacity would require a wind farm covering 150,000 acres. In some cases, nuclear energy's footprint is even smaller. For example, the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant's two reactors have a capacity of 1,900 megawatts, yet the plant sits on a site of only 500 acres.

Now let's take it up another level. In total, the electric generating capacity of America's 103 nuclear power plants is about 100,000 megawatts. If you wanted to replace that capacity with wind power, it would take a wind farm the size of the state of Wisconsin.

The Left Coaster is skeptical:
Sure, Pete Domenici and others in the GOP leadership will pat themselves on the back for getting their arms twisted and passing something this year that in truth does nothing to address global warming or make us energy independent.
Really? Here are some numbers to keep in mind when it comes to nuclear energy and avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions:
Over one-third of total voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reductions. According to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear power plants were responsible for 37 percent of the total voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions reported by U.S. companies in 2003. Nuclear plants reported avoiding 122 million metric tons of CO2 that year. In 2002, nuclear power plants were responsible for 35 percent of total voluntary reductions, avoiding 131 million metric tons of CO2.

Global benefits of nuclear energy. Worldwide, 441 nuclear power plants in 31 nations produce 16 percent of the world's electricity. By replacing fossil fuels in electricity generation, nuclear plants in 2004 reduced CO2 emissions by more than 700 million metric tons.
Something to think about.

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Norris McDonald said…
Excellent speech Mr. President. Now if we could just get Congress to pass an energy bill, Wall Street to write a check and the engineers building their designs, America will be in a greener place.

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