WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate today approved the nomination of Ernest J. Moniz, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative, as Secretary of Energy. The Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Marvin Fertel, made the following comments in response to the confirmation.
“We congratulate Dr. Moniz on his confirmation as Secretary of Energy and look forward to working with him to ensure that nuclear energy continues to play a vital role in our nation’s energy and environmental policy.
“Sustained economic growth requires affordable, reliable electricity supplies. Nuclear energy is uniquely capable of adding significant amounts of electricity to the grid around the clock without emitting any greenhouse gases. Dr. Moniz recognizes this reality, and we expect that nuclear energy technologies will be part of a diverse portfolio of electricity options DOE supports to strengthen our nation and its economy in an environmentally sound manner.
“Among the emerging technologies that merit greater Energy Department support are the small reactor designs that will have a variety of applications—from desalinization of water to industrial process heat to electricity production that can be increased incrementally, roughly 300 megawatts at a time. We have welcomed the agency’s establishment of a public-private, cost-shared licensing program for small reactors. But it is important that DOE meet its funding commitments at the pace needed to expeditiously develop at least two small reactor designs as Congress has stipulated. DOE’s fiscal 2014 budget request doesn’t do that.
“Similarly, DOE should fulfill its commitments to the Russian Federation and the state of South Carolina with timely completion of the mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility being built at the Savannah River Site. The project increases employment in the region at the same time that it advances the conversion of nuclear weapons into reactor fuel that will produce electricity and further sustain U.S. economic growth.
“Having served on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, Dr. Moniz has a clear sense of the course our nation should take to safely, securely and successfully manage commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs over the medium and long terms. This includes development of a repository for long-term disposal and, pending permanent disposal, development of consolidated storage facilities for used nuclear fuel at volunteer sites. It remains imperative, in accordance with existing law, that the Department of Energy resume efforts to license the planned repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
“We urge Dr. Moniz to move expeditiously on this and other nuclear energy priorities for the betterment of our nation’s energy security.”