The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday released the above chart headlined U.S. a Nonstarter in Nuclear Power. The point of the chart was to show those who continue to question the value of nuclear power that other countries are making concrete decisions and moving forward in earnest.
Unfortunately, some felt the chart sent the wrong message. By not explicitly putting the U.S. on the chart, they argued, we misrepresented the status of nuclear power’s comeback here.
It’s true that 17 utilities and consortia are in the permitting process to build up to 30 new nuclear reactors. But the fact remains: None has started construction and much remains to ensure those 30 units will go beyond the permitting process and actually get built.
If it were simply a question of process, then perhaps the nation could rest assured that those reactors would be built. But it’s not. This remains a question of policy. Will the U.S. develop a sustainable nuclear waste management policy? Without a rational policy, there is no nuclear renaissance.
What about loan guarantees? Some argue that no reactors will be built without them. Regardless of one’s view, the debate demonstrates few believe everything is in place from a policy perspective for a successful nuclear rebirth in America.
The subtext of Heritage’s chart was that the U.S. needs to stop squabbling about the value of nuclear energy –the technology is proven — and get to the business of making better policy to allow the building of more power plants. It was in no way meant to ignore recent efforts. The work of certain members of Congress, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as that of industry, has positioned us for that nuclear renaissance. No question.
The bottom line is, nuclear energy has strong opponents that have made careers out of being anti-nuclear — and their propaganda continues to permeate the national debate. So long as this dynamic manifests itself as fence-sitting elected officials who won’t take the right steps on nuclear energy policy, America’s nuclear renaissance remains in doubt.
And it’s these reluctant lawmakers who, despite America’s thirst for new energy, continue to deny our citizens access to nuclear energy. It’s these lawmakers who assure that, to date, when it comes to building new nuclear plants, the U.S., unfortunately, is a nonstarter.