Murkowski Calls for Greater Support of Nuclear Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today called on the Obama Administration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost domestic power generation by supporting nuclear energy projects.
In a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to review licensing and other issues related to nuclear reactor development, Murkowski pointed out that nuclear energy is currently the primary source of carbon-free power in the U.S., providing roughly 75 percent of the nation’s carbon-free power generation.  
“There’s not just one solution to the energy challenges we face – there are many,” Murkowski said. “Nuclear energy is one of the few solutions that’s already commercially viable, tested and proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”  
Given the Obama Administration’s stated commitment to reduce carbon emissions through implementation of a mandatory cap-and-trade system, the nation will require more, not less, nuclear power to meet its energy needs, Murkowski said.
“We’re seeing a lot of license applications for new reactors. Assuming they’re all approved, we need to be prepared to take the next step and support construction,” Murkowski said. “Our ultimate goal is to develop a robust and self-sustaining nuclear energy industry.”
Though the United States has the largest number of nuclear reactors in the world, 104, no new domestic reactors have been ordered since 1978, and other countries are moving ahead with plans to increase their nuclear energy output. China alone has 24 new nuclear reactors under construction.
“Unfortunately, as other countries move ahead with the one of the quickest, surest ways to produce clean energy, the U.S. is falling behind,” Murkowski said. 
Murkowski expressed concern over the Administration’s recent removal of support for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain repository for spent nuclear fuel, despite the Administration’s oft stated support for the industry.
Murkowski said the decision sends the wrong signal to potential investors and suggests the Administration is not serious about expanding domestic nuclear power.
“I’m concerned about the future of nuclear energy if we don’t take substantive steps to address the disposal of nuclear waste,” Murkowski said. “Until the Administration has an alternative, we need to fund and support the Yucca Mountain license review.”