WASHINGTON—"Governor Bush's recognition of the valuable role that nuclear energy plays in our society is a positive sign. Nuclear energy today meets 20 percent of America's electricity needs and is the only readily expandable, large-scale electricity source that protects our air quality while meeting the demands of our growing economy. Just as importantly, it provides a hedge against volatile fuel prices and other supply disruptions, making it an essential element of the nation's quest for energy security and environmental protection.
"Unfortunately, the proposals announced today by Governor Bush are limited. For example, he advocates tax credits for electricity produced from renewable and alternative fuels, but fails to suggest tax credits for other non-emitting sources of electricity, such as hydroelectric and nuclear power. Nuclear energy is our nation's largest emission-free source of electricity. While we need a diverse mix of energy sources and need to rely more heavily on all non-emitting sources of electricity, nuclear energy uniquely enables the United States to meet increasingly stringent Clean Air Act requirements and to effectively avoid emissions of greenhouse gases.
"Based on current emission levels, for example, the United States would be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 162 million tons each year to achieve its voluntary commitment to reach the 1990 baseline under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Without nuclear energy's crucial role as a clean-air technology, that commitment requirement would double to over 325 million tons. It is important to understand that emissions avoided are just as important as emissions reduced.
"Mr. Bush quotes Energy Department estimates that nuclear capacity will be reduced by 40 percent by 2020, with no new plants constructed. In fact, license renewals to extend the operation of existing plants to 60 years from 40 years are being approved now, with dozens of plants lining up in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's license renewal queue. Our existing nuclear fleet will continue to produce electricity at competitive prices for many years to come.
"Mr. Bush very appropriately links energy security with foreign policy and national security. Nuclear energy provides the best hedge against overseas actions that could adversely affect our economy and security. Leadership in the critical area of U.S. energy policy requires careful consideration of all of our energy assets and integration of them into a strong domestic energy policy-one that would unequivocally include even greater reliance on nuclear energy."
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 .