Loading...

Bills Planned for Vote in Congress to Expand Use of Nuclear Energy

March 4, 2020 by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House and Senate considered proposals Tuesday that would expand production of nuclear energy at a time global warming is leaving few alternatives.

Lawmakers, scheduled to vote as soon as this week on one of the bills, made clear they don’t want to deal with the health and safety risks of nuclear energy.

However, as the world emerges from one of the warmest winters on record and more expected in coming years, they say they can no longer delay weaning the U.S. off fossil fuels.

New technologies have made nuclear energy safer and more efficient, according to congressmen and witnesses at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Global energy demand is predicted to grow by at least 30 percent by 2035,” U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., the committee chairman, wrote in a memo accompanying the hearing. “Currently, 81 percent of the world’s energy and two-thirds of the world’s electricity comes from fossil fuels.”

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases, which creates “the potential to decarbonize the power sector more affordably,” wrote Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat.

Expert witnesses at the hearing said the latest technology for nuclear reactors has significantly reduced hazards that created disastrous meltdowns at Chernobyl in Russia in 1986 and Fukushima in Japan in 2011.

“The question of nuclear safety and the risk of potential radiation releases will likely remain highly controversial,” Armond Cohen, executive director of the Clean Air Task Force, said in his testimony.

Renewable energies like solar, wind and geothermal are making steady progress to replace polluting fossil fuels, he said. 

“And finally, we have America’s largest zero carbon source of electricity, nuclear energy, providing 20 percent of total power consumption,” he said. “The question for this hearing is whether nuclear energy can play a significant role in a future zero carbon economy. The evidence suggests it can, but there are many challenges to address, just as there are with all other zero carbon energy sources.” 

Existing U.S. nuclear power plants use reactors cooled by ordinary water, similar to the kind linked to previous disasters, according to background information from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Nuclear power reactor designers are developing reactors cooled by other chemicals, such as liquid metal and molten salt, that reduce meltdown risks and leave less radioactive waste.

They also are developing small modular reactors cooled by water that present a minimal risk of meltdown. They could be built quickly at relatively low cost in factories, then moved underground or to sites that now lack access to nuclear energy.

Proposals to expand development of the latest nuclear energy reactors are contained in pending House and Senate bills.

A leading bill is the American Energy Innovation Act, S. 2657, which is being debated in the Senate this week. Proposals in the House are similar.

Both the House and Senate bills seek to boost energy efficiency through energy storage, advanced nuclear systems and carbon capture. They also promote emission reductions for transportation vehicles and industrial sites.

The Trump administration has indicated the president would sign the legislation if it passes while still embodying his goals of using more nuclear energy for the nation’s electrical grid.

The move this week in Congress to expand nuclear energy production follows a new scientific study published in the journal Nature that shows oil and gas production is contributing more to global warming than previously believed.

The study showed that methane is produced at a rate 25 percent to 40 percent higher during oil and gas production than demonstrated by previous research. Methane is the second in amount to carbon dioxide emissions as a greenhouse gas but retains more heat from the sun.

A+
a-

Energy

December 3, 2021
by Dan McCue
Second Major Wind Farm Approved Off US Coastline

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have signed off on a proposal to build a wind farm off the coast of Rhode... Read More

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators have signed off on a proposal to build a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The South Fork Wind Project is the second commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The approximately 130 megawatt... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Interior Dept. Report Advocates Shift Away From Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new proposal to overhaul the nation's oil and gas leasing program drew praise this week... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s new proposal to overhaul the nation's oil and gas leasing program drew praise this week from environmentalists in Congress but complaints from oil-producing states. The proposal wouldn’t eliminate oil and gas leases but it would impose severe restrictions on them and... Read More

November 24, 2021
by Reece Nations
Bitcoin Miners Flocking to Texas for Cheap Energy May Bring Grid Problems

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ alluring low energy costs are drawing bitcoin miners from out of state despite the vulnerable condition... Read More

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas’ alluring low energy costs are drawing bitcoin miners from out of state despite the vulnerable condition of the electrical grid. Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive process in which new cryptocurrencies are entered into circulation by using sophisticated computer hardware to solve complicated... Read More

November 18, 2021
by Reece Nations
White House Pushing Utility and Energy Providers to Prevent Shut-Offs This Winter

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is calling on energy providers to proactively coordinate American Rescue Plan Act funds to prevent... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is calling on energy providers to proactively coordinate American Rescue Plan Act funds to prevent utility shut-offs this winter. In a press briefing issued on Thursday, the Biden-Harris White House urged states, localities and tribes to utilize resources earmarked under the... Read More

November 18, 2021
by Reece Nations
Satellite Observations Uncover Methane Emissions

SAN ANTONIO — International scientists gathering data collected by satellites have discovered significant amounts of methane emissions leaking into the... Read More

SAN ANTONIO — International scientists gathering data collected by satellites have discovered significant amounts of methane emissions leaking into the Earth’s atmosphere from gas pipelines, oil fields and landfills around the world. Teams of experts monitoring satellite-based instruments from the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and... Read More

Biden Pushes Electric Vehicle Chargers as Energy Costs Spike

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is highlighting billions of dollars in his giant bipartisan infrastructure deal to pay for the installation... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is highlighting billions of dollars in his giant bipartisan infrastructure deal to pay for the installation of electric vehicle chargers across the country, an investment he says will go a long way to curbing planet-warming carbon emissions while creating good-paying jobs. Biden on Wednesday will visit... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version