US House Climate Plan Needs Global and National Security Context
(Full Op-ed in The Hill)
“Given the complex challenges of the 21st century, it is time for U.S. policymakers to consider that the fate of America’s nuclear power enterprise is being decided in the wrong space — it needs to be decided as a national security issue, not as if nuclear is just another energy commodity.”
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis recently released its action plan. Entitled, “Solving the Climate Crisis, A Congressional Roadmap for Ambitious Climate Action,” the plan appropriately characterizes climate change as an existential threat and calls for action on shoring up U.S. infrastructure against the impacts of a changing climate.
However, it lacks the context to impact climate change at the global scale. It also fails to account for the national security implications of fundamentally reorienting the U.S. energy technology industrial base at a time when America is engaged in a long-term competition with revisionist powers pursuing superiority in dual-use technologies such as nuclear power.
America’s nuclear power enterprise is at a strategic crossroads where 21st century challenges of grid reliability, energy security, climate change and great power competition have converged. Before enacting policy that potentially marginalizes nuclear power, U.S. policymakers should ask themselves some questions:
Will policymakers in China and Russia subject their respective energy technology industrial bases to an all-in effort to reduce carbon emissions and solve the climate crisis? Will Russia jeopardize the global status of its state-owned nuclear power enterprise in favor of renewable energy? Will the Chinese Communist Party tell its Belt and Road partners across Eurasia that China won’t engage in nuclear power development until it has solved its nuclear waste issue? If the U.S. doesn’t advance its nuclear power enterprise, will Russia and China follow that lead or compete for the vacancy?