WASHINGTON—Vice President Al Gore today unveiled his plan to make the United States more economically competitive and energy independent while protecting the environment. The following is a statement by Marvin S. Fertel, senior vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, commenting on Vice President Gore’s program.
"The Vice President’s failure to include nuclear energy-our nation’s second-largest source of electricity-among his energy independence solutions leaves his policy incomplete. Nuclear energy is the only expandable, large-scale energy source that avoids emissions and can meet the baseload electricity 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.
"Nuclear energy is being produced at record levels of efficiency and safety in the United States. Across the spectrum of safety, reliability and electricity production, 1999 was the industry’s best year ever. Nuclear power provides 20 percent of our nation’s electricity needs, and is our 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.
"As electricity use in the United States climbs in the digital age, we need to rely on more non-emitting sources of electricity. However, hydropower faces an uncertain growth future, and other non-emitting renewables, such as solar and wind, will not be major contributors for many decades. Therefore, our current nuclear power plants and additional nuclear energy remain the primary emission-free option to power economic growth and protect the environment.
"Unfortunately the proposals announced today by the Vice President are limited. 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 in the United States 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.