Skip to main content

The American Energy Act

The Republicans have released the full text of their American Energy Act. You can read the whole thing here. We’ll note that it includes some points the Republicans have stressed since the last election: drill here drill now, strong favoring of domestic energy sources, disdain of regulation. But we’ll focus on a couple of points and let you explore it yourself.

First, the bill has a decidedly different philosophy from the Waxman-Markey bill now in mark-up. While that legislation aims to reverse climate change by making carbon emission reduction the centerpiece of government action, the Republicans focus much more on energy security and tapping domestic forms of energy. They even go further than this:

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 302(g) of the Clean Air Act is amended by adding the following at the end thereof: ‘‘The term ‘air pollutant’ shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.’’
(b) CLIMATE CHANGE NOT REGULATED BY CLEAN AIR ACT.—Nothing in the Clean Air Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming.

It goes into the weeds more, as legislation will, but it’s hard to imagine a more thorough repudiation of the need for carbon emission reduction. This will likely become a highly contentious point.

Second, the legislation does go into more detail as to how it would spur industry to put up 100 new nuclear plants in 20 years – that is, to have them running instead of a mix of running plants, plants under construction and plant licenses under review. (This comes from the Summary; the bill’s language would make your head explode):

The bill reinforces a commitment to protect public health and safety while providing for an accelerated regulatory process for new nuclear applications where there is a design already certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); a site already licensed for operating reactors; an operator in good standing with the NRC; and a full and complete Combined Operations and Construction License application. This bill also lowers construction costs by suspending import tariffs and duties on imported nuclear components for five years if there is no domestic manufacturer.

That takes care of licensing, but we couldn’t find anything about loan guarantees – presumably, the tariff reduction would cover some of the plant cost. The government would make direct loans for coal-to-liquid projects and advanced battery technology for cars (actually a contest with a cash prize for the latter), but we didn’t see anything about nuclear in these sections.

Some other nuclear provisions:

  • streamline the NRC licensing process for new reactors
  • direct NRC to develop a certification schedule for innovative reactor designs
  • create a National Nuclear Energy Council to coordinate federal government policy
  • direct the NRC to review the Yucca Mountain repository license application
  • allow money from the Nuclear Waste Fund to be used to develop used nuclear fuel recycling technology
  • direct DOE to audit its stockpile of surplus uranium and create a uranium reserve to be used should traditional supplies be disrupted

The American Energy Act is a thoroughgoing attempt to create (at least) a framework of a bill that could be filled out with much more detail. We suspect the repudiation of climate change will invalidate it for many voters – there are some EPA provisions here that will cause problems, too – but it’s worth a read alongside the Waxman-Markey bill to see where compromises might be found.

Comments

The Republicans just don't get it when it comes to pumping-- excess carbon dioxide-- into the atmosphere.

We need to move aggressively in this country towards a nuclear and renewable energy economy if we going to mitigate global sea rise and the increasing acidification of the oceans.
Bryan Kelly said…
Quickly contact your US Representative in support of the American Energy Act here:

http://www.suretyinsider.com/american-energy-act-hr2828.html

aka

http://tinyurl.com/ljesvp

Cut. Paste. Send. Go. Pass it on.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

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.

Huh?

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…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…