Share This

Climate Change Initiatives

Climate change increasingly is important as federal, state and local policymakers consider energy supply and greenhouse gas mitigation. Given those concerns and the need for baseload electricity production, policymakers and energy industry leaders are evaluating an expanded role for nuclear power.

Carbon mitigation strategies from Princeton University, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Harvard University and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change have reached a similar conclusion: A clear path toward meeting the global challenge of reducing greenhouse gases relies in part on an expanded portfolio of low-emission sources of electricity, including nuclear power.

Climate Change and the U.S. Congress

Climate change legislation dominated Capitol Hill during the months preceding the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The House and the Senate are working on bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with both chambers recognizing the importance of utilizing nuclear energy to achieve that goal.

Two major analyses issued in 2009 of the House version of the bill (H.R. 2454) make the case that significant nuclear energy provisions are necessary to achieve U.S. greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The Energy Information Administration issued  "Energy Market and Economic Impacts of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009." The Environmental Protection Agency released ." The Environmental Protection Agency released "EPA Analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454)."

NEI's Position on Climate Change

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions, while fostering sustainable development, is a major global challenge of the 21st century. Nuclear energy is a vital source of electricity that can meet the nation’s growing energy needs with a secure, domestic energy supply that also protects our air quality.

America’s 100 nuclear power plants produce vast amounts of electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. A credible program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will require a portfolio of technologies and approaches, and nuclear energy is an indispensable part of that portfolio. Emissions prevented by nuclear energy play an integral role in the continuing improvement of air quality and in reducing greenhouse gases. Emissions prevention has value just like emissions reduction.

The Nuclear Energy Institute supports federal action or legislation to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Any such federal initiative should:

  • involve all sectors of the economy and all sources of greenhouse gas
  • assure stable, long-term public/private funding to support the development and deployment of needed technology solutions
  • assure compliance timelines are consistent with those of expected development and deployment of needed technologies
  • employ market mechanisms to secure cost-effective GHG reductions, and provide a reasonable transition and an effective economic safety valve
  • establish a long-term price signal for carbon that is moderate, does not harm the economic competitiveness of U.S. industry, and stimulates future investments in zero- or low-carbon technologies and processes
  • address regulatory or economic barriers to the use of carbon capture and storage, and increased nuclear, wind or other zero- or low-GHG technologies
  • minimize economic disruptions or disproportionate impacts
  • recognize early actions/investments made to mitigate GHG emissions
  • provide for the robust use of a broad range of domestic and international GHG offsets
  • provide certainty and a consistent national policy
  • recognize the international dimensions of the challenge and facilitate technology transfer.

Policy Brief: Nuclear Energy Institute Position on Climate Change