Highlighting nuclear’s role in providing reliable power, reducing emissions, and addressing climate change, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to support the continued operation of the United States’ civil nuclear fleet and prevent further plant closures. Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that preventing the closure of existing nuclear power plants is critical to achieving emission reduction goals while ensuring a reliable grid.
“I urge you to take action to preserve our existing nuclear fleet and prevent further closures,” Manchin wrote in his April 20 letter to the president. “I believe the federal government must use all the tools it has to protect this vital resource to the maximum extent consistent with the health and safety of the public.”
Bipartisan support: During a March 25 Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the latest developments in the nuclear energy sector, Manchin noted the importance of maintaining the United States’ position as a global leader in nuclear energy.
“Without new construction or the preservation of the existing nuclear fleet in the U.S., achieving a sustainable energy system will be more challenging and expensive,” he said.
Manchin, along with then Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), also championed the Energy Act of 2020. Enacted last year, the bill was the first modernization of U.S. energy policies in over a decade and provided investments in advanced nuclear technologies.
According to Manchin, the Energy Act’s nuclear title emphasized research, design, and development programs that will continue to modernize the existing nuclear fleet, train the next generation of professionals, and develop advanced nuclear technologies to reduce emissions in the industrial and transportation sectors.
The letter: The full text of Manchin’s letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to urge you to support the continued operation of the United States’ domestic nuclear fleet. As a zero-emissions baseload fuel source, I believe that maintaining our fleet and preventing closures of existing nuclear plants is critical to achieving emission reduction goals and ensuring a reliable grid.
Over the past two decades, the United States’ total number of nuclear plants has fallen from 104 to 94. Expected closures are increasing, with approximately 5.1 gigawatts of nuclear capacity anticipated to go off line in 2021. A recent study warns that without any change in policy, half of the current nuclear fleet will retire by 2030. In 2019, nuclear prevented 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted and represented 55 percent of total emission-free electricity in the United States. Any further closures would be detrimental to meeting any climate goals.
I appreciate your leadership in supporting nuclear power plants’ continued operation and the role nuclear plays in combatting climate change. I urge you to take action to preserve our existing nuclear fleet and prevent further closures. I believe the federal government must use all the tools it has to protect this vital resource to the maximum extent consistent with the health and safety of the public.