Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NEI’s Nuclear Policy Initiative

home_branding_logo We gave you a heads up the other day with some fact sheets that outline what the industry - and NEI – has been doing as hearings on the energy bill get underway today (Look at the Twitter feed on your right for some quotes coming out of the hearings. We’ll see about fleshing them out later).

Toward this end, NEI has released a detailed nuclear policy initiative outlining where nuclear energy fits into the climate change debate. And here, in brief, is where that is:

Analyses of H.R. 2454 [the House climate change bill passed earlier this year], the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House on June 26, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) demonstrate that substantial increases in nuclear generating capacity will be essential to meet the legislation’s carbon-reduction goals.

All true. Now, anti-nuclear folks argue that nuclear energy tries to hoover up all available resources set in its path, leaving little for renewables and new technologies. This takes advantage of the undoubted fact that building a new plant requires high capital costs.

But the arguments depend on how legislation is ultimately constructed and how industries – all of them – that are helpful to a government goal partner with government to achieve an effective outcome.

Nuclear energy has a key part in any climate change legislation. And as you’ll see, it’s not all about money, anyway – a lot of it is about getting nuclear energy plants licensed and built in a timely way.

And let’s not forget the jobs:

A nuclear [energy] construction program will also breathe new life into the U.S. manufacturing sector, as it rebuilds and retools to produce the pumps, valves, vessels and other nuclear-grade equipment needed for new nuclear plants.

Tens of thousands of jobs.

Here are the bullet points:

  • new plant financing, principally through creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration that would function as a permanent financing platform;
  • tax incentives for nuclear energy manufacturing and production facilities, and work force development;
  • ensuring effective achievement of the efficiencies in the new-plant licensing process that was established in 1992 but is only now being tested;
  • management of used nuclear fuel, including limited financial incentives for the development of voluntary interim storage facilities for used uranium fuel;
  • nuclear fuel supply, to enhance the certainty and transparency associated with the disposition of government inventories on uranium markets; and
  • other areas, such as creation of a National Nuclear Energy Council to advise the Secretary of Energy and authorization of a cost-shared, public-private partnership to advance development and deployment of small modular reactors within the next 15 years.

We’ll have a lot more to say about this in the weeks ahead, but consider this the outline of the industry’s goals as the legislation is developed in the Senate. Take a read and see what you think.

Let’s note to that nuclear energy is scarcely the only group to present a detailed legislative initiative. It’s what industry associations do – openly and to the benefit of industry, sure, but the benefits are multiple, in this case even ultimate. After all, this is one of the most important issues today, speaking directly to the fate of the Earth. It just doesn’t get more important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm currently at "Materials Science and Technology 2009" in Pittsburgh, PA. Yesterday, Steve Koonin, DOE Undersecretary for Science, gave a great keynote talk regarding the future of energy research in the US, and nuclear featured predominately.

John Marra, an associate director at Savannah River lab, also gave a brilliant talk that discussed how, even with massive increases in renewables, only through large increases in nuclear power (I think he suggested 370 GWe) to reach Obama's 2050 goals.

You should try to get copies of their talks for summary or publication here, they would fit in nicely