Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Blueprint for Securing America's Energy Future

The Institute for 21st Century EnergyThe Institute for 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released its Blueprint for Securing America's Energy Future [PDF] earlier today, calling for the significant expansion of nuclear power in the U.S. The Institute made nine recommendations:

  • Congress should increase the loan guarantee authority of DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program commensurate with the capital cost of new nuclear power facilities. Additionally, Congress should transition the function of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program to a more permanent, stable financing platform, like the Clean Energy Bank of the U.S. (CEBUS) discussed in Section V of this report.
  • Congress should amend the Nuclear Standby Support Program to allow for recovery of increased project costs as a result of delays, rising equipment costs, escalation clauses, and costs of litigation, and it should provide for the recovery of 100% of covered costs and debt obligations.
  • Congress should ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commisson (NRC) has the necessary resources to review and approve combined construction and operating licenses for new nuclear power plants in a timely manner.
  • DOE should increase the amount of federally stockpiled uranium available for use in domestic nuclear facilities and create a strategic reserve of low-enriched uranium from its existing inventory to guard against supply disruptions.
  • The President and Congress should authorize the Secretary of Energy to enter into agreements with willing communities to foster the development of privately owned central facilities for the temporary storage of used nuclear fuel where DOE could purchase storage services for commercial used fuel removed from nuclear power plants.
  • The President and Congress must commit to a permanent solution to our nation’s nuclear waste. As directed by current law, the President and Congress must act expeditiously to ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Yucca Mountain licensing process proceeds and, if it is licensed, provide full funding for construction and operation of the repository as well as take legislative action to permanently withdraw the necessary land from public use, eliminate the current statutory 70,000 metric ton cap on disposal capacity at Yucca Mountain, and establish a radiation health standard for a time period that can reasonably be demonstrated through scientific evidence.
  • If the President or Congress will not fully commit to this path, they owe it to the American public and the utilities that have paid fees and interest in excess of $27 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund, to pursue a parallel path of centralized interim storage, industrial deployment of advanced recycling technology, and continued governmental research and development to more quickly place the U.S. government in compliance with U.S. law.
  • Congress should change budgeting rules to take the Nuclear Waste Fund “off budget” and codify use of this fund for interim used fuel storage through purchasing storage services from private central storage facilities as well as used fuel recycling.
  • The President and Congress should expeditiously establish a program to begin the recycling of the nation’s used nuclear fuel and establish a new corporation to coordinate the federal government’s legal responsibility to safely and reliably dispose of the waste while not subsuming DOE’s R&D mission. This entity should be provided long-term contracting authority andaccess to monies from the Nuclear Waste Fund.

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