Jumpstarting the Domestic Nuclear Industry? Setting the Record Straight

March 14, 2012

While President Obama now claims to support the Republican push for an "all-of-the-above" energy policy, the president's own policies have actually sought to reduce domestic energy production. Americans are feeling acute pain at the pump as prices near the $4.00/gallon mark, but that's not the only type of energy where prices are rising. Power bills are on the rise as well, and President Obama's policies are not helping. Take nuclear power as a case in point.

In its so-called "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future," the White House claimed, "Since taking office, President Obama has been committed to restarting America's nuclear industry to create new jobs and provide clean power to America's communities."

But the record proves otherwise....

President Obama's very own handpicked nuclear chief, Gregory Jaczko, fought recent efforts to green light the building of the first nuclear reactors since the early 1980s. On February 9, 2012, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was poised to finally approve licenses to construct the first two nuclear reactors in nearly three decades, Jaczko was the lone vote against the new reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia....

Just hours before casting the dissenting vote, Jaczko offered a foreboding view of the future of nuclear power during remarks provided at a conference. In describing two possible scenarios, Jaczko observed one scenario where the future of the nuclear industry is not necessarily bright, but another scenario that is just as likely to be "unsustainable" and "dominated by a process of continuous decommissioning" of existing reactors, drastically reducing the number of homes being powered by nuclear....

Those comments from the administration's nuclear chief do not reflect the jumpstarting of the domestic nuclear industry.......

Nor does the administration's 2013 Fiscal Year budget proposal reflect actions to jumpstart the nuclear industry. In fact, it signals just the opposite. Less than a week after the NRC vote, on February 15, 2012, Energy Secretary Steven Chu proudly declared in a speech at the Vogtle plant, "The Obama Administration is committed to doing our part to help jumpstart America's nuclear industry." Secretary Chu went on to state, "To strengthen U.S. competitiveness, our Fiscal Year 2013 budget request includes $770 million for the nuclear energy program."...

But that's $770 million compared to what? A closer look at the numbers reveals that of the $770 million in the budget, $95 million is for security at an Idaho facility, an item that was previously accounted for under "Other Defense Activities."... Once you factor those funds into the equation, the nuclear energy budget is down 10 percent from last year despite DOE's overall budget increase of 3 percent.
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But perhaps the most notable contradiction is what this administration has done to stymie development of a national nuclear repository - an essential component of our ability to safely depend on nuclear power today and into the future. One of the first acts of business for President Obama was to shutter the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository, making good on a campaign promise. With complete disregard for the law, former Harry Reid aide Gregory Jaczko and Steven Chu both worked to terminate development of the nation's only long-term nuclear waste disposal site, discarding decades of scientific research and over $15 billion in taxpayer dollars and ratepayer fees that have been spent on the repository....

Jumpstarting the Domestic Nuclear Industry? The Record Speaks for Itself.

Emissions-free nuclear power must be part of the "all-of-the-above" effort as we seek long term solutions to fortify our energy supply and grid reliability and keep prices affordable. Renewing our commitment to nuclear will power our nation's homes and economy for decades to come.

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