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Nuclear Energy Has a Rocky Path Ahead—Should Congress Support Microreactors?

by Axios | 9.28.18

Countable asks: Should Congress implement policy changes and support that would help develop and license microreactor projects? Why or why not? Tell your reps, then share your thoughts below. (Via: Axios)


Three developments this past week together tell a story of the present and future of U.S. nuclear power.

Driving the news: A federal appellate court upheld New York's zero emissions credits (ZEC) program that subsidizes nuclear plants.

  • The unanimous decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said the program is not preempted by federal electricity law.
  • It's the second appellate decision this month upholding states' authority to subsidize nuclear plants, following the Sept. 13 Seventh Circuit ruling in favor of Illinois' ZEC program.

Why it matters: The decisions bolster efforts in several states to prop up nuclear plants facing severe market pressures.

  • They're a win for advocates who fear that a wave of plant closures will be a huge step backward for the decarbonization of the country's power mix.
  • And environmentalists also welcome them as a blessing for states' powers to bolster renewables.

The big picture: The New York decision arrived a day after owners of a badly over-budget project to build two big reactors in Georgia struck an 11th-hour deal to keep construction going.

  • However, that action was at most a limited win for the troubled nuclear industry.
  • The Southern Company-led project is the only new commercial nuclear plant under construction in the U.S., and there aren't others on the horizon.

What's next: A new report says the path forward for new U.S. nuclear development lies with development and commercial deployment of small "microreactors" under 10 megawatts.

  • The report from The Breakthrough Institute, the R Street Institute and the ClearPath Foundation says this "can leverage America’s comparative advantage: our unrivaled innovation system and entrepreneurial business culture."
  • It calls for policy changes and support, including several contained in bipartisan legislation before Congress, to help develop and license these projects.

Ben Geman

Photo: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Axios

Written by Axios

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(18)
  • Tinee
    Voted Oppose
    09/30/2018
    ···

    Renewable energy yes. Nuclear energy is far to dangerous. The waste it produces takes decades to reach safe levles. Each new reactor has to have someplace to store spent fuel. Chernobyl , 3 Mile Island, Fukashima are examples of why micronuclar reactors are a bad idea.

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  • TrulyTexan
    09/30/2018
    ···

    Work to implement solar and wind power where possible. Try researching safer ways to produce nuclear power that do not produce dangerous waste. It is time energy companies tried growing towards the future instead of staying in the past. Why are we using the same polluting fuels from a century ago. Imagine if medicinal treatments worked the same way. Get big oil and coal out of political pockets and start moving forward.

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  • Chandler
    Voted Support
    09/30/2018
    ···

    Nuclear is the most efficient power source we have available that has the smallest impact on the environment around it. Developing this technology will continue to reduce power costs around the nation. Ignore the misinformation campaigns and paranoia. We have had less incidents with nuclear power than with oil or even wind power.

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  • Daniel
    09/30/2018
    ···

    I think this is a dangerous power source and we should be looking at solar on all homes and it’s storage capabilities for nighttime use. Wind and hydro these do not require storage of radioactive waste.

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  • Marylynn
    Voted Oppose
    09/30/2018
    ···

    Put an end to nuclear power now. We don't need to experience any more meltdowns.

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  • John
    09/30/2018
    ···

    No!

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  • Judith
    Voted Oppose
    10/02/2018
    ···

    RENEWABLE ENERGY YES ! WIND WATER SOLAR YES NUCLEAR NO !IT IS TO DANGEROUS AND POLLUTING ! PEOPLE SEEM TO THINK THAT INSTEAD OF HAVING ONE BIG REACTOR THAT MELTS DOWN WE CAN HAVE HUNDREDS OF REACTORS THAT EACH ARE JUST AS DEADLY AS THE BIG ONES ! RADIATION IS RADIATION ! TRYING TO CONTROL SEVERAL HUNDRED REACTORS ALL OVER THE PLACE IS A LOT WORSE THAN ONE REMOTE ONE !

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  • Jim2423
    09/30/2018
    ···

    Yes, nuclear power is by far best way to reduce fossil fuel power plants. They can be kept in ready status more cost effectively than fossil fuel plants. Fossil fuel power plants have to be kept idling while alternative power sources are on line. So when the wind is not blowing or it is blowing to hard or sun is not shining power plants need to come on line as soon as possible. That means fossil fuel power plants are burning coal or natural gas to remain hot for their steam plants. That means they are similar to cars and trucks waiting at stop lights. So nuclear plants are a much better choice.

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  • Marshall
    10/01/2018
    ···

    Nuclear energy is an energy source that needs to be embraced and developed.

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  • shevotes
    10/01/2018
    ···

    Nuclear is not renewable energy. Renewable means It's a resource that renews itself, the sun for example-- produces an endlessly renewable source of power, as does wind or wave. Nuclear is not clean and no REAL environmentalists are cheering for it. It must be dug from the ground at great environmental expense, and we still have no safe or sane way to dispose of the waste. It's an expensive technology also that cannot exist without state funding. Fund development of renewables, not this archaic, unclean, and dangerous technology. Shame on New York for pushing this kind of power.

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  • Azrael
    09/30/2018
    ···

    No

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  • Sandra
    Voted Oppose
    10/01/2018
    ···

    What we need is TRUE renewable energy....Anything nuclear is but a time bomb waiting to go off...Just ask the people who live in Japan.

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  • Sean
    10/03/2018
    ···

    No!

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