U.S. National Security And A Call For American Primacy In Civilian Nuclear Power
(This is an excerpt from my commentary published in Forbes.)
Civilian nuclear in America is struggling, the world is watching, and aggressive national initiatives are needed to elevate nuclear power as the national security issue it should be. However, this is not the time for half measures or timidity. Moreover, the objective should not be limited to stopgap measures that rescue a few nuclear plants imperiled by market economics that cannot detect or monetize the national security benefits of nuclear. These efforts, while necessary, are insufficient as they lack long-range strategy, vision and an institutional commitment that would project to the world that America has the power and political resolve to live up to its original national and international security obligations. What’s called for is a national commitment to nothing short of American primacy in the full cycle of civilian nuclear power—that being, nuclear energy resources, fuel enrichment and fabrication, advanced reactor technologies (small modular, molten salt, fast breeders), fuel reprocessing and waste management.
President Trump recently announced his commitment to energy dominance and Secretary Perry reiterated a commitment to an all-the-above energy strategy. However, there can be no U.S. energy dominance in an all-the-above energy strategy without American primacy in the technologies to stand up those energy resources. This is particularly applicable to nuclear power. Therefore, as President Trump develops his formal National Security Strategy, he has an opportunity to set a precedent by including American primacy in civilian nuclear power as a national security objective, thus elevating it as a strategic national security interest.
Nuclear Power in America:
All Eyes Are On Georgia and Plant Vogtle
This was originally published in GeorgiaPol.com
On July 30, 2017 the United States had four nuclear reactors under construction along with the hope of a comeback for nuclear power. As of July 31, 2017, the United States is down to two reactors as South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G), principal subsidiary of SCANA, made the decision to halt construction on its two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station.
It appears the hope for a nuclear comeback in the U.S., at least for the immediate future, rests with two reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Georgia. The implications, however, aren’t limited to Georgia and South Carolina, and they aren’t trivial. Continue reading “Nuclear Power in America: All Eyes Are On Georgia and Plant Vogtle”
Nuclear Power in America Requires
(This is an excerpt from my commentary in Morning Consult)
For three decades U.S. nuclear power has been strongly influenced by three forces—one from the market, one from regulations and one from apathy. Consequently, nuclear power in America has lost ground that must be reclaimed in order to enhance grid reliability, meet economic and climate objectives, and maintain national security.
While the immediate nuclear power issues in Georgia and South Carolina are due to the financial condition of an international corporation headquartered in Japan, the outcome may well determine the fate of nuclear power in America. Therefore, this isn’t about whether nuclear power works—it does. This isn’t about whether nuclear power can support U.S. economic and climate objectives—it can. This isn’t about whether nuclear power in America is safe—it is. This is about whether America has the political resolve to correct past apathy towards nuclear power, promote nuclear as the clean energy resource it is, and sustain nuclear power as a critical technology to safely and reliably meet economic, climate and national security objectives—objectives shared by U.S. leadership across the political spectrum and throughout all 50 states.
An America Without Nuclear Power
[Full commentary published in Forbes]
The U.S. is facing a critical and decisive moment in its energy policy history and it centers on the single most versatile energy resource mankind has ever learned to harness–nuclear. As the world struggles with an expanding global economy, increasing carbon emissions, and greater and greater demands for more energy to lift emerging regions out of poverty, the U.S. is deliberating whether or not it should even maintain a civilian nuclear power sector. As existing U.S. nuclear power plants struggle to remain in operation and new plant constructions deal with unforeseen financial challenges following decades of dormancy in the U.S., anti-nuclear activists circle the nuclear power sector like buzzards, hoping to pick its bones clean and leave it for dead. In this Forbes piece, my colleague, Scott Jones, and I explain how an America without nuclear power an America without nuclear power has implications that extend beyond even the challenges that are so clearly associated with trying to responsibly meet the low-carbon energy demands of the future without nuclear power.
Energy Policy for the U.S. Power Sector Must Include Stability And Nuclear Power
The marginalization of nuclear power is arguably the most egregious development to come out of environmental organizations that claim to be concerned about climate change. While historical opposition to nuclear power can be attributed to a range of social, political and environmental concerns, current efforts to exclude this zero-carbon resource are a travesty of environmentalism. It’s long past time to allow the U.S. nuclear industry to do its part to help us meet climate and economic objectives. [Full Commentary Here]
Georgia Magazine, a publication of Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, recently published my commentary on U.S. energy policy as it pertains to the U.S. power sector. Our efforts to address economic and climate issues at the U.S. and global levels will be greatly improved by incorporating stability in our energy policy but will be impossible without nuclear power.
How Can Someone Who is Concerned About Carbon Emissions and the Potential Impacts of Climate Change Be Opposed to EPA’s Clean Power Plan?
[A version of this post entitled, “U.S. Missing the Mark on Climate Policy” was published in GeorgiaPol as a guest Op-Ed]
The old expression, “Every little bit helps”, doesn’t hold true for global CO2 emissions if the little bit that helps in one country doesn’t translate and scale up to something systemic and impactful in emerging economies throughout the world where billions live in energy poverty and more energy is needed, not less. EPA’s Clean Power Plan is such an example as it gives the appearance of commitment to addressing climate change issues, yet will have little-to-no impact on the actual issues of energy, carbon, and climate at the scale of concern: the global scale. We don’t need this sort of regulatory greenwashing to respond to an issue of this magnitude.
We can do better than this…we have to.
Top 15 GDP’s in the world (based on 2015) ranked by CO2 intensity Continue reading “EPA’s Clean Power Plan: We Can Do Better”
U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership
(Published as an editorial in the Athens Banner-Herald on November 17, 2016.)
Since 2000, CO2 emissions in the U.S. have decreased 8% and are trending down while global emissions have increased 40% and are trending up. Does this represent global leadership by the U.S. with respect to energy policy and carbon goals? Continue reading “U.S. Energy Policy: Setting Carbon Goals Without Nuclear Isn’t Global Leadership”
The Georgia PSC Made the Right Decision on Nuclear
(This was published as an editorial in the the Newnan Times-Herald on August 20, 2016)
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) recently decided to maintain the nuclear energy option for the state while also increasing renewables-based power generation. This represents long-term integrated resource planning that’s in sharp contrast with states that have allowed their beliefs in renewable energy to override the realities and limitations of nature and engineering. Continue reading “Georgia PSC Made the Right Decision on Nuclear”
My editorial on the Clean Power Plan, was published in James Magazine (pg. 10-12). The article discusses the goals of the Clean Power Plan and how EPA’s policy for the power generation sector are not what this country, or the world, needs to address the global CO2 issue.
Engineering Georgia is the official magazine of Georgia’s engineering industry. The July/August 2015 edition had a significant emphasis on energy in Georgia. I was invited to write an editorial on energy and environmental issues as well as comment on the additional units currently under construction at the Vogtle nuclear plant.
My editorial is here: Gattie Editorial (Engineering Georgia July-August 2015)
My comments on Vogtle are in the article on Georgia Power’s CEO, Paul Bowers.
Engineering Georgia Magazine is a nice publication and is available on-line.