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EDITORIAL: Worries must not stop new nuclear push

Nuclear is viable and reliable. The design life of a plant can be as long as 100 years. The plants today are clean, safe — and getting safer.


The Times and Democrat | April 27, 2023

The push for electric vehicles means a growing demand for electric power. And if traditional sources of power used to produce electricity are to be curbed and phased out in favor of “clean energy,” the United States had better get serious again about nuclear power.

Llewellyn King is executive producer and host of “White House Chronicle” on PBS. Writing for, he has summed up the situation: “There is a national climate crisis, and a national electricity crisis is building. Utilities are having to produce more electricity while giving up coal and gas to do it. Nuclear is the strong third leg of the future electricity stool.”

Nuclear is viable and reliable. The design life of a plant can be as long as 100 years. The plants today are clean, safe — and getting safer.

South Carolina Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan is a proponent of nuclear energy. His Blueprint for Nuclear Innovation and Competitiveness is designed to help chart the course for the nuclear energy agenda. The blueprint highlights policy priorities in the nuclear energy industry in the realm of fuel, licensing and Nuclear Regulatory Commission modernization, financing and spent nuclear fuel.

  • Fuel: Establish a secure fuel supply and an advanced reactor fuel supply.
  • Licensing and NRC modernization: Reform the licensing structure at the NRC to incentivize advanced reactor development and keep the existing fleet of reactors online.
  • Financing: Ensure tax and financial policies do not disincentivize nuclear energy investment.
  • Spent nuclear fuel: Develop a long-term fuel-management program with a permanent repository and recycling/reprocessing.

Duncan, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security, this past week held a hearing on nuclear power.

He then issued a statement, which included:

"I am from South Carolina -- my state is a leader in nuclear energy. Nuclear power is responsible for 54-58% of our state's electricity and over 90% of our carbon-free electricity.

"We are also home to the Savannah River Site (SRS), a DOE nuclear security enterprise site, which supports our nation's nuclear weapons and environmental management missions.

"South Carolina also witnessed the failure of V.C. Summer.

"This project has created perceived risks of uncontrolled cost overrun and project abandonment, which has limited commitment to new reactor development in this country.

"We cannot let this concern inhibit nuclear deployment. Nuclear energy is by far our nation's leading source of carbon-free electricity. It is also among the most reliable sources of power, with a capacity factor surpassing 90% -- more than any other generating source."

Duncan is on target. Worry over failures such as the Summer nuclear project must be put in the past. Building a new generation of nuclear power is essential and the United States can make it happen safely and efficiently.

The Editorial here.


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