Earlier this week, Dave Parker participated in the National Journal’s Energy and Environment Experts blog to respond to their question, “Does Nuclear Fit The Bill?” His response is posted below and you can visit the National Journal Energy Experts blog to view the entire thread.
Fuel diversity in electricity generation is critical to the success of a sustainable grid, and nuclear power can and should play a key role in producing clean, baseload energy for the nation. But the reality is that the last new nuclear reactor built in America was 32 years ago—in 1977—and today, despite having received applications for 26 new nuclear reactors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has yet to approve a single one, let alone the hundreds that would be needed to do the job that Sens. Kerry and Boxer seem to envision.
The reasons are no secret—many in the environmental community consider nuclear power a danger to both the natural and man-made environment, even though nuclear power emits no carbon-dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions, making it, from a global warming perspective, the most environmentally benign way to generate electricity. It is also important to note that since the 1970s rapid advances in technology have made nuclear power far safer and more efficient—and the nuclear industry’s safety and security standards are the highest in the world.
The American Gas Association (AGA) believes that any climate change legislation should support the increased use of nuclear power as a way to enhance fuel diversity in the generation of electricity, while at the same time meeting our national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently natural gas, the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel, is the fuel of choice in electricity generation. Yet the best use of natural gas—meaning its most efficient and environmentally superior use— is directly in America’s homes and businesses.
AGA does not believe that natural gas should not be a part of the electricity generation mix. Rather, we believe that increased fuel diversity, including the increased use of nuclear power, would allow more natural gas to be used directly in the residential and commercial market, where, for more than 40 years, natural gas customers have led the way in increasing energy efficiency and conservation.