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Nuclear Energy Institute
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Nuclear Energy ‘Indispensable’ Part of Portfolio Approach to Climate Change, Says NEI Policy

WASHINGTON—The Nuclear Energy Institute today released its policy position aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The nuclear industry policy states that:

  • the industry supports federal action or legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • 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;
  • a credible program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will require a portfolio of technologies and approaches; nuclear energy is an indispensable part of that portfolio; and
  • significant expansion of nuclear power in the United States requires sustained federal and state government policies relating to energy infrastructure and the environment.

In announcing the Institute’s climate change policy, NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Frank L. (Skip) Bowman said, “Nuclear power is the only proven technology deployed or deployable on a large scale to provide baseload electricity without producing greenhouse gases, and we are committed to meeting America’s dramatically increasing energy needs while preserving clean air.”

Nuclear power plants operating in 31 states provide more than 70 percent of all U.S. electricity that comes from sources that do not emit greenhouse gases or controlled pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act.

Increased electricity production from nuclear plants also accounts for the largest share of reported voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions under the U.S. Department of Energy’s voluntary Climate Challenge and Climate Visions program – 54 percent of the reductions reported in the electric sector and more than one-third of the reductions from across the entire economy.

“If we are going to be environmentally responsible and produce the electricity required to drive modern economic growth, nuclear power must be an indispensable part of the future energy portfolio of our country and the world,” Bowman said.

NEI’s position on climate change tracks closely with the principles embraced earlier this year by the Edison Electric Institute. NEI supports federal action or legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while fostering sustainable development. 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 consistent with the expected development and deployment timelines of needed technologies;
  • Employ market mechanisms to secure cost-effective greenhouse gas 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-greenhouse gas technologies;
  • Minimize economic disruptions or disproportionate impacts;
  • Recognize early actions/investments made to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Provide for the robust use of a broad range of domestic and international GHG offsets;
  • Provide certainty and a consistent national policy; and
  • Recognize the international dimensions of the challenge and facilitate technology transfer.

Because nuclear power plants generate heat from fission rather than by burning fuel, they produce no greenhouse gases or emissions associated with acid rain or urban smog. Using more nuclear energy gives states additional flexibility in complying with clean-air requirements.

In life-cycle emissions comparisons that examine the environmental impact of the entire nuclear fuel cycle—from uranium mining to used fuel management—the total emissions from electricity production at nuclear power plants are among the lowest of all electricity sources and comparable with renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and wind.