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December 7th, 2010

U.S. nuclear energy powwow today

Published on December 7th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Third Way and the Idaho National Lab have been holding a “New Millennium Nuclear Energy Summit” this morning in Washington, DC.

According to a press release, the meeting is aimed at generating some needed momentum:

“Despite the deep divisions in Washington over energy issues, many on both sides agree that nuclear energy must 
play a role in the nation’s energy and economic future. The summit will provide a forum to start developing 
broader consensus on the future of nuclear energy in the United States and determining the steps needed to 
revive the nation’s nuclear energy industry.”

INL says the idea for the summit came from conversations between retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del) after Voinovich visited the national lab in the summer of 2009. Carper agreed to become involved after meeting with INL Director John Grossenbacher in Washington, D.C., that autumn.

The two sent President Obama a letter, co-signed by 11 U.S. senators, seeking his support (which he gave). Copies of the letter were also sent letters to DOE’s Steven Chu plus a group described as bipartisan regulatory and industry leaders. INL says approximately 80 of the invitees committed to attend.

A story published this morning by The Hill reports that Chu, who spoke at the meeting, indicated that the Obama administration would consider proposals that would require utilities to supply increasing amounts of power from a “clean energy portfolio” of low-carbon sources, a description that includes nuclear energy. According to the story, Chu says, “I hope we can discuss policies that can do that. A clean energy portfolio standard is one example of a potential policy that the administration and Congress should discuss.”

This would mark a departure from discussions of “renewable-electricity portfolio” which has included wind, solar and other renewables, but not necessarily nuclear power. The clean-versus-renewable semantics has much to do with rational fears that nuclear and clean-coal technologies would eventually be favored at the expense of long-term investments in solar, wind, etc.

The Hill also reported that White House energy czar Carol Browner, who also spoke at the meeting, emphasized the administration requests to Congress to expand nuclear federal loan guarantees. “We were once at the forefront of this industry, and we need to recapture that dominant position,” Browner says.

INL is website has a running Twitter feed on the conference, or you can follow using the tag #nesummit.

 


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