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Maria Korsnick on the 2018 DOE Skinny Budget and Nuclear Energy

Maria Korsnick
The nuclear energy industry is encouraged by the news that the preliminary budget for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) includes funding to both re-start licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate a robust interim storage program. We’re committed to working with Congress and the administration to put the used fuel management program back on its feet.  Until the government is meeting its legal obligation to accept the fuel, the industry will continue to safely and securely store it at our facilities.

On the other hand, the budget blueprint has energy innovators nervous. As the administration and Congress establish funding levels they need to remember that DOE programs historically have supported public-private partnerships to bring nuclear technologies to market because of the benefits the nation enjoys from a strong domestic nuclear energy industry. Reducing the nuclear energy research budget now would send a signal around the world that the U.S. government is ceding leadership to competitors like Russia and China, at exactly the wrong time.

It is time for a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors to meet growing global demand in a clean, reliable way. Time is running out for America to reclaim international leadership in nuclear energy and to create hundreds of thousands more jobs, all while reinforcing our nation’s electricity and manufacturing infrastructures. Capitalizing on this opportunity requires broad action from the executive branch on a number of fronts, including unquestioned support for the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program that supports construction on new reactors in Georgia, appointing a full complement of commissioners to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, while moving decisively to address flawed electricity markets around the nation that fail to fairly value America’s fleet of nuclear reactors and the benefits they deliver.


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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.

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