As part of its climate strategy, the Obama administration is providing an $8.3-billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two new nuclear power plants, which would be online in 2016 and 2017. The move and the supporting comments by Carol Browner, Obama’s energy czar, appear to indicate a shift towards more support of American nuclear power after 30 years without the construction of a new nuclear plant.
I for one am more than happy to see nuclear power back on the table in energy discussions. Other nations do very well with nuclear power as part of their energy portfolio, and one big example is France, who has dealt effectively with the question of nuclear waster and uses nuclear power to run a substantial portion of its power grid. With all the focus on going green, it only makes sense to include a proven emission-free technology that works in other parts of the world.
The shift from the Obama administration is made more drastic by candidate Obama’s statements that he wasn’t a “nuclear proponent.” I’m not really concerned about his previous positions as he’s come around to the more sensible approach of encouraging nuclear power as a component of our energy infrastructure.
So I’m sitting pretty good with the administration’s move at this point, until we come to this potential deal-breaker: along with encouraging nuclear power, the administration isn’t backing away from using the EPA to regulate carbon emissions. Yikes, you were doing so well up to that point, too. Getting around thorny cap-and-trade legislation by enforcing it through the executive branch remains a dishonest way of circumventing the legislative process to ram through an ideological wish, and will hurt industry and the economy just the same as a bill passed by Congress would. Decouple this from nuclear power, and I would have been giving this a big thumbs-up. As it stands, I remain skeptical.