Nuclear Power Must Play a Role in Climate Solution (Sen. Pete Domenici)

Recently, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that recognizes that nuclear power should be part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

The IPCC report is hardly a major revelation.  In my view, it is not possible to have a serious discussion about reducing greenhouse gas emissions that does not include nuclear energy as a major power source.  However, the report is significant nonetheless because it represents the growing consensus that has already swept through Europe and East Asia.

Here in the U.S., nuclear power has tremendous momentum.  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided loan guarantee authority, production tax credits, and insurance protection against licensing delays and litigation for nuclear power projects.  As a result, over thirty nuclear power plants have been proposed.

To expand the use of nuclear power, we must continue to address concerns about nuclear waste and non-proliferation.  To that end, the Department of Energy has proposed the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which seeks to expand the use of clean, affordable nuclear energy to meet the growing worldwide demand for energy and address these two issues.

A major component of GNEP is nuclear waste reprocessing, which involves recycling spent nuclear fuel with advanced technologies.  That, in turn, reduces the risk of proliferation.  Among many other things, GNEP would also provide assurance of fuel services to nations with few nuclear plants through economic incentives, which will eliminate the spread of sensitive technologies.

As the ranking member of both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, I have been a major supporter of nuclear power and GNEP.  They are an essential part of our secure energy future.

With the growing call for action to strengthen U.S. energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear energy makes more sense now than ever.  I look forward to our nation reaping the benefits of the nuclear renaissance that is now underway.

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