CNN Fails to Mention Nuclear’s True Obstacles
Steve Hargreaves, in his November 11th CNN Money article “No money, no nukes,” reports that nuclear will not move forward without subsidies. He quotes energy analyst Kevin Book, who says, “You need subsidy dollars for nukes. And no one’s really pushing that right now.” The article does mention the nuclear loan guarantee program but fails to mention that President Obama announced $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees today to commence projection construction on two nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia.
But the problem is not just money or finding new ways to subsidize the nuclear industry. Without proper regulatory reform and waste management reform the nuclear industry will be in the same position it has been in for the past 30 year. Expanding nuclear loan guarantees without regulatory or waste manage reform creates taxpayer liabilities, give recipients preferential treatment, and distort capital markets. Another problem with loan guarantees is the government’s inability to administer the loans. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Constellation last month backed out of a new nuclear power plant project it was developing with EDF, citing high costs associated with accepting a DOE loan guarantee.”
Instead of focusing on subsidies, it is important for Congress to make the regulatory process for permitting new nuclear reactors more efficient, and to equip the NRC for regulating different reactor technologies. Establishing a predictable and effective regulatory structure for the nuclear industry, without compromising safety and security, will do much more to drive a nuclear renaissance than perpetuating the status quo with nuclear subsidies.
One other mistake Hargreaves makes is that he fails to refute Obama’s notion that nuclear will reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. This is true only if we make a large transition to electric vehicles. Otherwise, our electricity production is entirely domestic with only approximately one percent coming from oil.