Thursday, May 11, 2006

House Committee on Government Reform: Nuclear Is 'Only Sensible Path Forward'

The House Committee on Government Reform has issued a report aimed at advancing energy policies to sustain U.S. economic growth and reduce dependency on foreign oil and gas.

The report, “Securing America’s Energy Future,” recommends that nuclear energy become the primary provider of baseload electricity. At the same time, it calls for steps to reduce oil consumption, develop alternative transportation fuels and avoid use of natural gas as a baseload source of power.

Here are the key findings of the report:

• the current period of high, volatile oil prices is demand-driven, “and not caused by supply restrictions instituted by producers or political upheaval”
• given today’s tight global markets with little excess capacity, the United States is vulnerable to “catastrophic supply shock” in view of current geopolitics
• the United States must pursue production and conservation; these are not “either or” options
• reduction of demand for oil in the transportation sector is essential, as this sector consumes more than two-thirds of the country’s supply
• the government must strengthen corporate average fuel economy standards to help reduce demand for oil and enhance domestic competition
• in addition to developing alternative transportation fuels, the country must pursue aggressively renewable energy, clean coal technology and “next generation nuclear”
• in turning away from natural gas as a baseload source of electricity, the country must redirect its use in industries as feedstock or primary energy and not a “substitute for fuel-switching”
• nuclear must be the “primary generator of baseload energy, thereby relieving the pressure on natural gas and dramatically improving atmospheric emissions.”
Nuclear energy, the report continued, will “free natural gas supplies for critical uses in manufacturing processes, reduce electricity costs to the consumer, be emission-free and pave the way for drastically reduced petroleum dependency” with hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The report called the use of nuclear energy as the country’s primary source of baseload power “the only sensible path forward.” It strongly encouraged Congress to “acknowledge the centrality of nuclear power’s role as a solution” to global warming and climate change.

The report cited “diminishing” concerns in the scientific and technical community “over whether nuclear waste can be safely managed, and a “general agreement … that disposal in a deep geologic repository is achievable” and preferable.” In addition, the report advocated increased funding to develop advanced fuel-cycle technologies, make reprocessing more economical and address proliferation concerns.

UPDATE: More from Noblesse Oblige.

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