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Time Wasting on Nuclear Waste


July 16, 2008
The Heritage Foundation recently released the chart below called, U.S. a Nonstarter in Nuclear Power. The point of the chart was to show those that continue to question the value of nuclear power that other countries are making concrete decisions and moving forward in earnest.
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Unfortunately, some felt that the chart sent the wrong message. By not explicitly putting the U.S. on the chart, some believed that we misrepresented the status of nuclear power's comeback in the U.S. It is true that seventeen utilities and consortia are in the permitting process to build up to 30 new nuclear units. But the fact remains that none have started construction and much remains to assure that 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 is not. It remains a question of policy. Will the U.S. develop a sustainable nuclear waste management policy? Without a rational policy there is not nuclear renaissance.

What about loan guarantees? Some argue that no reactors will be built without them. Regardless of one's view, the debate surrounding the issue demonstrates that few believe that everything is in place from a policy perspective to facilitate a successful nuclear rebirth.

The subtext was that the US 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 the efforts that have gone on in the U.S. in recent years. The work of certain members of Congress, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as that of industry has positioned the United States for a nuclear renaissance. No question.

The bottom line is that 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 that will not take the right steps on nuclear energy policy, America's nuclear renaissance remains in doubt.

And it is these reluctant lawmakers that, despite this country's thirst for new energy, continue to deny U.S. citizens access to nuclear energy and assure that to date, when it comes to building new nuclear plants, the U.S. unfortunately, is a nonstarter.

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