Skip to main content

EPA's Carbon Regs, Nuclear and Energy Diversity

Kimberly Cate
The following post was written by Kimberly Cate, NEI's Communications Intern.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to roll out a carbon-reduction regulation tomorrow, a move that may have major ramifications in how states manage energy policy and develop the electricity grid of the future.

This new regulation will likely prompt companies to shift to nuclear energy, renewables, hydropower and other lower-carbon emitting energy sources, as the new regulation will impose yet more strict regulations on carbon emissions.

As the only large-scale electricity producer, “…[P]olicy makers should not be spooked into shutting down [nuclear energy as] a vital source of clean energy in a warming world,” the New York Times points out in an editorial.

Last year, nuclear energy accounted for more than 60 percent of America’s carbon-free sources of electricity, with hydropower accounting for around 20 percent; wind an estimated 13 percent; and geothermal and solar at about 1 percent each.

Many environmentalists and energy and environmental policy organizations have already assessed nuclear energy’s essential role in a carbon-constrained energy portfolio. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions notes in a recent report that, “Without nuclear power…U.S. emissions would be 289 million-439 million metric tons higher in 2014, and 4-6 billion metric tons higher over the period of 2012 to 2025.”

All carbon-free energy technologies will be needed in this transition to a lower carbon electricity portfolio, but nuclear energy’s scale sets it apart from other sources. One hundred reactors in 31 states produced 789 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and sector-leading reliability. When compared to wind, nuclear energy prevents more than 4.5 times the carbon emissions as wind.

Despite global events such as the Fukushima reactor accident in 2011, “[I]t…would be wrong to rule out a near-carbon-free technology that produces a fifth of the country’s electricity,” a Washington Post editorial notes.

The International Energy Agency predicts that global energy demand will increase one-third by 2035. In addition, they estimate that low-carbon energy sources (renewables and nuclear) will account for 40 percent of the growth in “primary energy demand.”

Steps to expand nuclear energy are in the works, with the Energy Department issuing a $6.5 billion loan guarantee to Southern Co. for its Vogtle 3-4 project in Georgia, two of the five reactors under construction in the Southeast. Two other reactors are being developed by South Carolina-based SCANA. By the time this additional 2,200 megawatts of nuclear energy comes online, the company’s electric generation mix will include 62% non-emitting sources.

The EPA regulation is an opportunity for U.S. policymakers to prompt serious discussion on how to harness nuclear energy most safely and effectively, while maintaining the reliability and diversity of the grid.


Mitch said…
This was a good article! Only I'll believe the government believes in this EPA statement when they throw down some fresh new orders for nuclear plants and help salvage bankrupt ones for a acid rainy day! Talk is cheap! Add how just much land use and scenic eyesores and property value crashers Wind and Solar are and they lose their glamor! There's a great YouTube video with a graphic of land-use of nuclear vs windmills. Can't find it again!
jim said…
Very good feature Kimberly! Please do a much overlooked and overdue expose on this topic as well!
Re: Leslie Corrice's "Hirsoshima Syndrome" on The Godzilla Movie and the Parallel with Fukushima:
"...As the cloud of the explosion’s debris blew toward the northeast, the world’s news media pounced on it like hungry predators. The horrific aftermath (and response to and treatment of) of the quake/tsunami (refugees and victims) immediately became a secondary topic. In less than a week, the Fukushima accident (and plight of evacuees) was all we heard about... Could a more perfect smokescreen have been anticipated... and the Kan regime used it to the fullest while a quarter of a million tsunami refugees languished in utter inattention."

There's another unsung peril here that I believe is receiving insanely nil media coverage, and that's the widespread contamination of coastal water tables by the toxic brew of chemicals, raw sewage, industrial waste, garbage dumps, cemetery remains, oil products, medical lab biologics and God knows what else gouged up and churned and swept deep inland by the tsunami. It all didn't backwash out to sea; a massive amount had to've seeped into the ground and farmland soon as it occurred, yet you can't find even a health review or inquiry about this! Isn't anyone in Japan the slightest curious? Is there a gag order in place here even to research the possibility? This water table contamination issue makes frets of Fukushima's leaking holding tanks look a picnic!

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…