Waxman-Markey intends to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – mainly by implementing a cap and trade program but also by imposing new mandates and subsidies for renewable energy as well as creating a host of stricter, costly energy efficiency standards. But interestingly enough, if you perform a search for the word “nuclear” in the 1,427 pages climate change bill, it only appears five times – two of which are in the titles.
While the bureaucratic-laden approach offered by the legislation is extremely problematic, the fact that it has virtually no mention of nuclear power calls the entire green initiative into question. If reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions, creating jobs, and promoting domestic energy sources were truly the objective, then nuclear energy should be central to the legislation.
Nuclear power already provides the United States with 20 percent of its electricity and 73 percent of its CO2-free electricity. When it comes to affordable near-term reduction of CO2 and other atmospheric emissions, the importance of nuclear power cannot be overstated.
Truth be told, not including nuclear energy in Waxman-Markey could be a blessing in disguise. The fact is that based on the legislation’s other energy provisions, its handling of nuclear energy would probably have relied on subsidies, handouts, and preferences. The problem with this approach is that it just does not work.
If CO2 reduction is truly the objective, then maximizing America’s nuclear resources should be a top priority. This will require a major restructuring effort from Congress and the Administration that emphasizes market-based reforms that ensure long-term regulatory stability and policy predictability. Most importantly, these reforms can be done without additional cost to the taxpayers.
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