Kristin Schrader Marcell Is Nuclear the Green Solution?

Recently Dave Parker participated in the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to respond to their question, “Is Nuclear the Green Solution?” Please take a moment to read his response posted below and visit the National Journal Energy Experts blog to view the comments from others in this respected group.

We believe nuclear power is one part of the solution to climate change, given that it emits no greenhouse gases.   In addition, our industry supports increasing nuclear power’s ability to generate electricity because of the current trend in which more and more natural gas is being used for that purpose. Because it is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, more and more electricity generators are turning to natural gas as a way to comply with increasingly stringent environmental standards.  Unfortunately, as demand for natural gas in this market increases, so does its price, which makes it more expensive for the residential and commercial customers that natural gas utilities primarily serve.   That is why our industry supports the availability of a variety of supply sources for electricity generation, including more nuclear power.

In addition, when natural gas going into electricity generation drives up its price in the residential and commercial market, that can actually have a negative effect on our national environmental goals because as the price of natural gas increases, residential and commercial customers might choose other, less expensive, but less efficient and dirtier fuel sources.   The best use of natural gas, both from an efficiency and environmental standpoint, is its direct use in homes and businesses.   To the extent that more nuclear power frees up natural gas to be used directly in America’s homes and businesses, that is a good thing.

Yes, building nuclear power plants can be an expensive investment, in great part because of the extensive regulatory hurdles put in their path, and because, for the most part, the general public is not well informed about the benefits, including the clear environmental benefits, of nuclear power.  We believe the federal government should promote nuclear power, both through loan guarantees and through a public education outreach effort that explains the rewards of nuclear power as well as the risks.

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