GOP congressmen criticize Democrats for stalling nuclear innovation

August 1, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe



Two Republican congressmen have penned an op-ed for The Hill in which they criticize the Biden administration for offering Americans “a false and misleading choice” between a clean environment or a strong economy, such as with administration policies prioritizing renewable energy sources. Representatives Jeff Duncan (S.C.) and Byron Donalds (Fla.) argue that a greater emphasis on nuclear innovation is needed “to ensure a reliable electricity supply and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, while fostering our national, economic, and energy security interests.”

Nuclear benefits: In their description of the environmental and economic benefits of nuclear power, Duncan and Donalds note that modern nuclear power plants are “our country’s most reliable clean energy source,” operating at full capacity more than 92 percent of the time with no carbon emissions. They also point out that the U.S. nuclear industry provides about half a million jobs and contributes $60 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product each year. The legislators praise the potential of advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors, to further provide environmental and economic advantages.

Outdated regulations: Duncan and Donalds blame Democrats and the “radical left” for stigmatizing and working against nuclear power by advocating for plant closures (as with the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California) and retarding the progress of advanced nuclear technologies with “a cumbersome regulatory process that was designed for legacy reactors.” They point out that advanced reactors have “built-in safety features” and other technological improvements that do not fit the current “outdated,” “one-size-fits-all” regulatory approach.

Promoting innovation: To speed the development and commercialization of innovative advanced nuclear technologies, the congressmen call for “targeted investment in critical research facilities” and “reform [in] the licensing process.” Without such moves, they warn, “our adversaries, such as China and Russia, will take the lead” on nuclear technologies.

Duncan and Donalds end their op-ed by describing actions that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are taking to promote both nuclear energy innovation and economic competitiveness, including the creation of the Energy, Climate, and Conservation Task Force and the Jobs and the Economy Task Force.

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