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Clean Air Benefits

See how much each electricity source contributes to help the environment.


Nuclear energy is by far the largest clean-air energy source and the only one that can produce large amounts of electricity around the clock.


When Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, nuclear energy supplied just 1 percent of America’s electricity. Today, 100 reactors in 31 states provide nearly 20 percent of America’s electrical power, replacing fossil-fueled plants that would have been built otherwise. Learn about nuclear facilities in your state.

LEARN: Pandora’s Promise has the potential to provide a new perspective on the role of nuclear energy to meet our energy and environmental goals.  Check out NEI’s “Unofficial Guide To Pandora’s Promise,” a blog post at NEI Nuclear Notes that provides background on the prominent environmentalists profiled in the film who have changed their minds about nuclear energy because of their concerns about realistically addressing global climate change.


Nuclear energy facilities help states and communities comply with air quality standards by generating electricity from fission—a process that, unlike the burning of fossil fuel, produces no greenhouse gases or emissions associated with acid rain or urban smog. In 2012, the Energy Information Administration reported that greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector were 15 percent below 2005 levels, due in part to carbon-free electricity produced by nuclear energy.


Protecting the environment extends to safely managing used fuel, protecting water quality, and preserving and improving habitat for plants and wildlife. America’s nuclear energy facilities have extensive environmental programs, many of which have been recognized by environmental and conservation organizations. 


How can nuclear energy make transportation cleaner? Reducing vehicle exhaust is always a good idea—but a net reduction in overall pollution would be even better. Electric vehicles don’t produce emissions like the traditional combustion engines, though they need regular recharging. Motorists using electricity from nuclear energy facilities can maintain a low-carbon profile.