More encouraging words on nuclear from Biden climate advisor

May 24, 2021, 3:14PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Despite the discordant, antinuclear note struck by President Biden’s environmental justice panel in a recent report, other administration officials continue to signal support for nuclear energy.

In an interview with the Washington Post last week touting the president’s American Jobs Plan, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy reiterated her belief that nuclear energy is key to the administration’s stated goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

Nuclear boost: “There are two ways in which nuclear continues to be an important consideration,” McCarthy said. “Number one is that we do have nuclear facilities that provide significant baseload capacity, and so some of those nuclear facilities are older. We don’t expect them to be carrying the load forever, but we do know that there are many regions in which at least the states themselves feel like the support for those facilities needs to continue while we build an infrastructure of wind and hydro and other mixes moving forward.” McCarthy did not, however, indicate whether support for existing nuclear facilities was likely to be coming from the federal government.

McCarthy’s second point concerned advanced nuclear technology. “That’s going to be pretty interesting, and people are really investing significant resources to look at these small nuclear reactors, these modular reactors,” McCarthy said. “They don't generate the types of waste that traditional nuclear plants generate, and they do offer opportunities for much more smaller applications, with less need for large, centralized facilities. I do think there are opportunities there as well.”

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