Tag: nuclear energy

New Management Wanted

On Tuesday the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Department of Energy (DOE) can no longer collect fees for the Nuclear Waste Fund. What does this mean and why should you care?

First, this means DOE can no longer collect fees for a program that is virtually non-existent and non-operational. Since the mid-1980s the agency has collected more than $30 billion from nuclear utilities to build a long-term nuclear repository. Over 35 states have paid into this fund and all the money has come from rate payers, like you and me and, yet we still have no place to store nuclear waste.

Second it is encouraging that the court is enforcing the law as written and holding DOE accountable. The court’s decision was more than a slap on the hand – it was a reprimand in front of the entire nation. The court sent a loud and unambiguous message, something needs to change and what you have been doing is not working.  New management wanted!

It is clear that Congress bears a share of the responsibility for this repository not being built. If we truly want to have an “all of the above energy” policy that includes nuclear power then Congress and the agencies need to find solutions that meet our national rather than parochial interests.

 

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Court Ruling Step in the Right Direction

In a 2-1 ruling today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals instructed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to resume its review of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project. This decision is good news for manufacturers and all who support continued use of reliable nuclear energy.

Nuclear power is a safe and vital source of cost-effective base-load electricity that does not emit criteria pollutants or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It helps stabilize the price of electricity while diversifying our domestic fuel sources.

As part of the continued use and development of nuclear energy in the United States, manufacturers support the construction and operation of facilities covering all parts of nuclear energy generation, including waste handling and disposal operations. It is critical that the government fulfill its obligation to remove used fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and manage its long term disposal.

The NAM applauds the court’s decision, and believes the Yucca Mountain repository should be given full and thorough consideration before acceptance or denial of the application. Today’s ruling brings us a step closer to ensuring a fair process for all involved.

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Westinghouse Nuclear Reactor an Important Step to New Sources of Energy

On December 22 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it has certified Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000 reactor design. This is an improved reactor from every perspective including safety. It is the first time since the 1990s that NRC has approved a nuclear power plant design. This design will be used on two new power plants being built in the State of Georgia by Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary.  NRC’s approval of this design will streamline the NRC licensing process and provide companies constructing nuclear power plants greater certainty. In addition, this will make it easier for Westinghouse, to market it reactor designs in a global economy. This in turn will create thousands of new jobs as our nuclear power plan industry will be renewed and the demand for supplies and parts will grow. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the components for the new Georgia plant will be made in the United States.

The Southern Company has made a significant investment in nuclear. They have already spent over $2 billion to get their project to this point and as the project moves forward it will mean thousands of new construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs when the plant is completed.

It is anticipated that the NRC will soon approve the first combined Construction and Operating License (COL) permit for a nuclear power plant in the United States. This will further streamline the licensing process and save millions of dollars and significantly reduce the construction to operation time frame. According to the NRC the last time a construction permit was issued to build a nuclear power plant was in 1978, 33 years ago. The last time the NRC issued an operating license was in 1996, 15 years ago. We are long overdue for a renaissance of nuclear power.  As manufactures use over a third of the energy produced in this country it heartening to see new sources of energy come on line that will help make our manufactures more competitive.

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Secretary Chu on Nuclear Energy

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified today at a hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, a meeting called to examine DOE’s budget but which obviously turned to the Japanese earthquake and damage to the nuclear power plants. In his prepared statement, Secretary Chu outlined the Department’s support of personnel and materiel for the Japanese and then commented on safety issues:

The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan’s experience as we work to continue to strengthen America’s nuclear industry.

Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America’s energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process.

To meet our energy needs, the Administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power. We look forward to a continued dialogue with Congress on moving that agenda forward.

That’s a good statement given the current information available.

Hat tip to Iain Murray, who has been blogging on the accidents and explosions here, here and here. Iain recommends the Brave New Climate blog for continuing coverage. As we write, the lead blog post is from Ben Heard, director of the Adelaide-based advisory firm ThinkClimate Consulting. Heard comments:

In all cases, I find it most distasteful when individuals or groups push agendas in the face of unfolding tragedy. Let me say at the outset that this is not my intention.

Sadly, many people and groups don’t share this sentiment, including a great many who have wasted no time in making grave and unfounded pronouncements regarding the safety of nuclear power, and how this event should impact Australia’s decision making in energy. This has been aided no end by a media bloc that has reflected the general state of ignorance that exists regarding nuclear power, as well as a preference for headlines ahead of sound information at this critical time. The whole situation has been all too predictable, but still most disappointing. It has reinforced one of the great truisms in understanding how we humans deal with risk: We are outraged and hyper-fearful of that which we do not understand, rather than that which is likely to do us harm. Rarely if ever are they the same thing.

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Hold Off on Speculation, Hype after Japan Nuclear Accident

The news coverage of the nuclear plant accident in Japan has relied too much on speculation, third-hand reporting and hype. In the meantime, anti-energy activists and politicians rush to fill the void of hard facts with irresponsible claims and exaggerations.

What happened in Japan was a natural disaster of historic proportions, a true catastrophe. In these circumstances, thousands die and the damage challenges our abilities to comprehend them. Better if people were to deal with the facts as are already known rather than driving a biased and political storyline.

The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog summarizes those facts, “Morning Bell: Nuclear Facts to Remember While Following Japan”:

  • The low levels of radiation currently being released will likely have no biological or environmental impact. Humans are constantly exposed to background radiation that likely exceeds that being released.
  • The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan.
  • There were no health impacts from any of the radiation exposure at Three Mile Island.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough.
  • The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced.
  • No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S. (continue reading…)
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CASEnergy Coalition: A Policy Roadmap for Clean Energy

From manufacturing’s friends, allies and nuclear energy advocates at the CASEnergy Coalition:

On Wednesday, May 12, the CASEnergy Coalition will hold an event to release the Coalition’s four-point Policy Roadmap for Clean Energy to help the nation build the next generation of nuclear reactors and reach its clean energy goals.

To view the webcast LIVE from your computer, read more for the link below.

The event will be led by CASEnergy Co-Chairs Christine Todd Whitman and Dr. Patrick Moore at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on May 12, starting at 1:30 p.m.

We are also proud to have a line-up of top speakers from across the industry that will be presenting on our nation’s path forward to reaching its clean energy targets. Our speakers include:

  • CASEnergy Co-Chair Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor
  • CASEnergy Co-Chair Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace
  • Stephen Moret, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development
  • Denise Bode, Chief Executive Officer, American Wind Energy Association
  • Daniel S. Lipman, Senior Vice President, Operations Support & Core Process Innovation, Westinghouse

For those of you in the D.C. area, we encourage you to attend the event. If you are unable to attend, please click here to join us LIVE from your computer.

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Power to the People…Nuclear Power

The Washington Post puts the issue on the front page today, and that’s good news judgment…in our judgment.

From “Nuclear power regains support“:

It has been 13 years since the last new nuclear power plant opened in the United States. But around the world, nations under pressure to reduce the production of climate-warming gases are turning to low-emission nuclear energy as never before. The Obama administration and leading Democrats, in an effort to win greater support for climate change legislation, are eyeing federal tax incentives and loan guarantees to fund a new crop of nuclear power plants across the United States that could eventually help drive down carbon emissions.

From China to Brazil, 53 plants are now under construction worldwide, with Poland, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia seeking to build their first reactors, according to global watchdog groups and industry associations. The number of plants being built is double the total of just five years ago.

Now that’s a good topic for the Dec. 3 White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, unemployment in nuclear power. As NAM President John Engler told the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers on November 6:

As I’m sure you know, there hasn’t been a brand new nuclear power plant completed in the United States since the 1980s. We’re losing our expertise, our infrastructure, and missing out on jobs.

A typical power plant creates 14,000 to 15,000 jobs during pre-construction, up to 2,400 jobs during construction, and 700 permanent, high-paying jobs thereafter.

So real energy security – and jobs.

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Good Signs on Nuclear from Obama Administration

From William Tucker, author of ”Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey,” cautious praise for the signs that the Obama Administration supports nuclear power, “Obama Coming Around Slowly on Nuclear?

UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): An opportunity to demonstrate the seriousness of the support for nuclear power. From The Boston Globe:

President Obama is planning to give a speech Friday at MIT, according to a White House statement and a copy of his schedule. Obama, who is in town to hold a fund-raiser for Governor Deval Patrick, will deliver remarks on “American leadership in clean energy,’’ according to the statement. He will address state, community, and business leaders, as well as MIT students and staff. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Boston at 11:30 a.m., and will depart about four hours later. His address at MIT will take place in Kresge Auditorium, beginning at noon.

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Leaders for Nuclear Power in Britain, Germany and …?

A piece in The Weekly Standard by Spence Abraham, former Secretary of Energy, “New Nukes!

In the United Kingdom, a Labour party government similarly concerned about carbon emissions and foreign energy dependence has forged ahead with a nuclear initiative first proposed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair and continued by Gordon Brown, each of whom used his office to educate the citizenry and bring many nuclear skeptics around. America needs that same type of leadership today.

For President Obama, the temptation is to follow the urgings of environmental groups and anti-nuclear activists and effectively kill off nuclear energy by denying needed federal support. But if the president is serious about reducing our dependence on foreign energy and addressing climate change, he will help launch America’s renaissance in nuclear energy.

In Germany, leadership involves the new coalition government rejecting past plans to phase out nuclear power. From Bloomberg, “Merkel’s Bloc, FDP Make Headway on Nuclear Energy, Deregulation“:

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bloc and the pro-business Free Democratic Party made headway in three-day talks to form Germany’s next government, reaching a breakthrough on extending nuclear energy and an agreement on deregulation.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, agreed with the FDP to embrace nuclear power as a “bridge technology,” Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said today. The three parties also forged a plan to trim regulation for mid-size German companies.

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Safe Nuclear Energy Development in U.A.E. Equals U.S. Jobs

An op-ed in today’s Washington Times by John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers, “Benefits of U.A.E. deal,” on the 123 Agreement between the United states and the United Arab Emirates, now pending before Congress. As Engler argues, “The agreement paves the way for the United Arab Emirates to benefit from safe, clean, reliable nuclear power just as we do in the United States and in other industrial countries.”

And what’s in it for the United States:

The National Association of Manufacturers’ Nuclear Energy Workforce Coalition strongly supports a robust nuclear power industry because nuclear is a reliable low-cost, clean energy that supports a sustainable pro-growth agenda and helps U.S. manufacturers compete globally. This 123 Agreement and the United Arab Emirates decision could generate excellent jobs in the United States at a time of great economic distress. Further, it could also result in substantial development opportunities for U.S. manufacturers.

The administration has called the United Arab Emirates’ nuclear energy program a “model for the world,” and the world is watching. Power generation technologies remain one of America’s major manufacturing exports, and it is important that we maintain this capability as we expand our own domestic nuclear program.

The Senate resolution of approval is S.J.Res. 18. More background on the 123 Agreement is in the news release from the Department of State and this Congressional Research Service Report.

Companies are fiercely competing for a piece of the multibillion dollar project, understandably enough.

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