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Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2001
Contact: media@nei.org, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

Environmental, Energy Imperatives Underscore Society’s Need for Nuclear Energy, NEI CEO Says

WASHINGTON—Nuclear energy's value in meeting climate change goals is increasingly being recognized due to the convergence of key energy and environmental imperatives, Joe F. Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, today told attendees of the National Press Club's Morning Newsmakers program.

"Twenty-five years ago we discovered the value of nuclear energy in relieving our dependence on foreign oil for electricity generation. Today, with global climate change talks on the horizon and the implementation of tougher EPA clean air requirements, we are witnessing a rebirth of the need for nuclear energy," Colvin said. "Policymakers are coming to realize that nuclear energy is safe, economical and environmentally friendly, and that it plays an important role in our nation's ability to meet climate change goals and clean air initiatives."

One of the important outcomes of the 1973 oil embargo, Colvin said, was the impetus it provided for the United States to capitalize on nuclear energy's potential as a leading source of electricity. In 1973, oil-fired plants provided 17 percent of the nation's electricity, while nuclear energy provided four percent.

"In the wake of the oil embargo, our nation made a very wise and conscious decision to turn to domestic energy sources, such as nuclear power, to reduce our dependence on outside energy supplies," Colvin said. "Today, nuclear energy is the second largest source of the nation's electricity at 20 percent, while oil is less than three percent of America's electricity mix.

Future progress in improving air quality hinges in large part on support for nuclear energy on a number of policy fronts, he said. Chief among these policy areas are nuclear power plant license renewal, deregulation of the electric utility industry and clean air programs that recognize non-emitting energy sources, such as nuclear energy.

The nuclear energy industry has not been fully recognized for its role in preventing emissions, Colvin said. Between 1973 and 1996, nuclear plants met 40 percent of the increased demand for electricity in the United States while simultaneously preventing the emission of 80 million tons of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and over 34 million tons of nitrogen oxide, which creates ozone smog. Yet, current environmental policy does not provide credits on the basis of these avoided emissions.

"Emission-free sources of electricity, such as nuclear energy and hydropower, should be fostered and preserved through the establishment of an emission-free portfolio standard," Colvin said. "Regardless of how the commitments agreed to in Kyoto are implemented, cutting carbon emissions seven percent below 1990 levels over the next 10 to 14 years will be extremely costly."

To meet the limits set last December in Kyoto, a study completed earlier this month by DOE's Energy Information Administration said most nuclear energy plants will have to extend their licenses for an additional 20 years, and that 68 new 600-megawatt nuclear plants will need to be built by 2020 in order to bring carbon emissions just three percent below 1990 levels.

"The first filings by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and Duke Energy Co. to extend their nuclear power plant licenses are both historically significant and practically momentous. They, and the applications that will follow, demonstrate that industry leaders are committed to ensuring the nation can continue to rely on nuclear energy to meet growing electricity needs without creating emissions into the environment," said Colvin. "Extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants is less expensive, and more efficient, than building any type of new plants." Industry executives from another half a dozen utilities have indicated they will follow with license extension applications.

"As an industry, we have become safer, leaner and more productive than at any point in our history," he said. "The heightened awareness of the nexus between energy policy and environmental imperatives has resulted in a growing appreciation of the added benefits of nuclear energy. That is why, as we stand on the threshold of a new century, I am more convinced that nuclear energy is, and will continue to play, an important role in our nation's energy mix."

Washington, D.C.—Oct. 22, 1998—Nuclear energy's value in meeting climate change goals is increasingly being recognized due to the convergence of key energy and environmental imperatives, Joe F. Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, today told attendees of the National Press Club's Morning Newsmakers program.

"Twenty-five years ago we discovered the value of nuclear energy in relieving our dependence on foreign oil for electricity generation. Today, with global climate change talks on the horizon and the implementation of tougher EPA clean air requirements, we are witnessing a rebirth of the need for nuclear energy," Colvin said. "Policymakers are coming to realize that nuclear energy is safe, economical and environmentally friendly, and that it plays an important role in our nation's ability to meet climate change goals and clean air initiatives."

One of the important outcomes of the 1973 oil embargo, Colvin said, was the impetus it provided for the United States to capitalize on nuclear energy's potential as a leading source of electricity. In 1973, oil-fired plants provided 17 percent of the nation's electricity, while nuclear energy provided four percent.

"In the wake of the oil embargo, our nation made a very wise and conscious decision to turn to domestic energy sources, such as nuclear power, to reduce our dependence on outside energy supplies," Colvin said. "Today, nuclear energy is the second largest source of the nation's electricity at 20 percent, while oil is less than three percent of America's electricity mix.

Future progress in improving air quality hinges in large part on support for nuclear energy on a number of policy fronts, he said. Chief among these policy areas are nuclear power plant license renewal, deregulation of the electric utility industry and clean air programs that recognize non-emitting energy sources, such as nuclear energy.

The nuclear energy industry has not been fully recognized for its role in preventing emissions, Colvin said. Between 1973 and 1996, nuclear plants met 40 percent of the increased demand for electricity in the United States while simultaneously preventing the emission of 80 million tons of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain, and over 34 million tons of nitrogen oxide, which creates ozone smog. Yet, current environmental policy does not provide credits on the basis of these avoided emissions.

"Emission-free sources of electricity, such as nuclear energy and hydropower, should be fostered and preserved through the establishment of an emission-free portfolio standard," Colvin said. "Regardless of how the commitments agreed to in Kyoto are implemented, cutting carbon emissions seven percent below 1990 levels over the next 10 to 14 years will be extremely costly."

To meet the limits set last December in Kyoto, a study completed earlier this month by DOE's Energy Information Administration said most nuclear energy plants will have to extend their licenses for an additional 20 years, and that 68 new 600-megawatt nuclear plants will need to be built by 2020 in order to bring carbon emissions just three percent below 1990 levels.

"The first filings by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. and Duke Energy Co. to extend their nuclear power plant licenses are both historically significant and practically momentous. They, and the applications that will follow, demonstrate that industry leaders are committed to ensuring the nation can continue to rely on nuclear energy to meet growing electricity needs without creating emissions into the environment," said Colvin. "Extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants is less expensive, and more efficient, than building any type of new plants." Industry executives from another half a dozen utilities have indicated they will follow with license extension applications.

"As an industry, we have become safer, leaner and more productive than at any point in our history," he said. "The heightened awareness of the nexus between energy policy and environmental imperatives has resulted in a growing appreciation of the added benefits of nuclear energy. That is why, as we stand on the threshold of a new century, I am more convinced that nuclear energy is, and will continue to play, an important role in our nation's energy mix."
 

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The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.



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