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In November 2014, the American Nuclear Society responded to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) issued Clean Power Plan Rule stating unfairness toward nuclear technology.
In an ANS “call to action”, President Michaele Brady-Raap issued a letter to all members asking their full support by writing comments to the EPA in November regarding the necessity of nuclear energy in a low-carbon emission world. Dr. Brady-Raap stated in her letter that the rule, as it is currently written, almost completely discounts the clean energy contributions of current nuclear energy facilities, while penalizing states that have new plants under construction.
Dr Brady-Raap points out that states that choose to close current nuclear power plants need to only replace that energy with 5.8% clean energy, and the remaining 94.2% energy needed can be replaced with other sources, even those emitting more greenhouse gases than nuclear energy.
In her letter Dr. Brady-Raap cited the ANS Policy Statement on climate change (ANS-44-2013) that states: “ANS supports policies designed to address carbon emission reductions that are performance-based and technology neutral.” According to Dr. Brady-Raap, “The current EPA proposal clearly fails that test.”
About the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Rule
This proposed rule was formulated to cut carbon pollution by 30% by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels. The proposal builds on the actions already being taken by businesses, communities, and states to address the risks of climate change and provides a flexible approach to reduce emissions based on the opportunities and resources available in each state. The EPA proposal claims it will “maintain an affordable, reliable energy system, while cutting pollution and protecting our health and environment now and for future generations.”
The proposed rule calls for each state to devise a plan to cut carbon emissions using the following mix of steps:
- Improving efficiency at existing coal-fired power plants
- Increasing utilization of existing natural gas-fired power plants
- Expanding the use of wind, solar, or other low- or zero-carbon emitting alternatives
- Increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses
Where The Clean Power Plan Falls Short
In this proposed rule, the EPA focuses on the importance of continuing to provide affordable and reliable energy to the public, but fails to highlight nuclear energy as the cleanest of all energy. The EPA had not figured nuclear energy more prominently into the mix, instead calling upon “cleaner” coal, increasing gas-based power plants and expansion of wind, and solar, with nuclear energy not being named.
The EPA does recommend that U.S. states keep existing nuclear power plants running and complete those still under construction. However, states receive no credit towards their carbon-cutting emissions for plants that are currently under construction.
Visit the NRC website to view an interactive map of operating nuclear power plants in the United States.
Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information of the American Nuclear Society
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