Nuclear energy can't meet challenge of addressing climate change, says former regulator

A former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Thursday cast doubt about whether nuclear technology can be used to combat climate change.

“The greatest threat we face right now is climate change, and nuclear power is tossed around as a solution to that problem, but I don’t think it can meet that challenge," Gregory Jaczko, who served as chairman of the NRC from 2009 to 2012, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball.

Nuclear energy has been seen as a potential emissions-free energy alternative that can be used to help combat climate change.

Nuclear energy generates approximately 20 percent of electricity in the country, though fossil fuels like natural gas and coal remain the largest sources of energy for electricity.

But Jaczko said nuclear energy is "old technology" and cast doubt about its growth potential.

"Nuclear is an old technology and at the end of the day there’s not going to be a lot of growth there worldwide, despite people talking about it as a solution to climate change," he said.

The former regulator argued the U.S. should instead invest in newer technologies like solar and wind power.

“The emerging technologies, whether it’s solar, whether it’s wind, whether it’s clean technology, whether it’s storage — this is the area for us to be a leader because these are the technologies of the future,” Jaczko told Hill.TV.

Jaczko is currently on a book tour promoting his new book, “Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator," which gives a first-hand account of nuclear regulation in the U.S. 

The former regulator also expressed concern over whether the U.S. will ever "really deal with climate change."

Under the Paris Climate agreement, the U.S. vowed to cut carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

However, that pledge was made under the Obama administration, and so far the U.S. is not on track to hit that goal. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump campaign buys full page ads in Miami newspapers ahead of Dem debates Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama MORE announced in 2017 that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Since taking office, he has also rolled back a number of Obama-era regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump has also cast doubt on a government report warning of the devastating effects from climate change.  

—Tess Bonn