Inhofe Statement on the White House’s Nuclear Energy Summit

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released a statement today in advance of the White House’s “Summit on Nuclear Energy” on Friday, which is intended to “highlight the administration’s commitment to nuclear energy as a clean energy and climate mitigation solution”:

“Any serious plan to cut carbon emissions would have to include robust growth in the nuclear sector, which the president’s Climate Act Plan fails to address. Nuclear energy produces more than 60 percent of our nation’s carbon-free electricity. However, this president’s EPA assumes the Clean Power Plan will not result in any new nuclear plants beyond those currently under construction. The EPA also assumes that 96 of our 99 operating plants will retire by 2050.  The combination of those two assumptions is essentially the phasing out of our nuclear industry, not a so-called ‘commitment’ to nuclear energy.  Since President Obama took office, five nuclear plants have closed, eliminating 4,000 jobs.  Another three plants have announced they will close in the next few years, eliminating almost 2,000 jobs.  Taken together, those closures mean the loss of more than 6,000 megawatts of carbon-free energy.  Other nuclear plants remain at risk for early closure, including some in his home state of Illinois. 

“The good news is the EPA will allow states to take credit for any increased output from existing nuclear plants.  However, the increases that would qualify add up to a grand total of 1,882, less than a half of the power that was lost from the plants that have already been shut down.  One last measure of this administration’s support for nuclear energy is how they have undermined permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel.  The technical staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, our nation’s independent safety regulator, concluded that Yucca Mountain could meet the regulations and be safe for a million years.  Rather than proceed with the NRC’s independent safety review, this administration shut down the project, leaving spent nuclear fuel stranded at sites in 34 states. 

“This administration’s so-called support for nuclear energy seems limited to small reactors and advanced reactors, technologies that won’t be built until the next decade and beyond.  Those technologies hold promise for the future, but that future will grow dim if our existing nuclear plants continue to decline.  If this administration is serious about supporting nuclear energy, it’s time for the president to preserve our existing plants and build Yucca Mountain.  Anything less is just talk. It’s time for the president to leave the ‘summit’ behind and come down to where real plants are closing and real people are losing their jobs.”


On Oct. 22, Inhofe released a statement regarding the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) issuance of an operating license to Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee. When Watts Bar 2 begins operating in coming months, it will be the first nuclear plants to do so in 20 years.

On Oct. 7, the Senate EPW committee held a hearing, Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to examine policy and management issues pertaining to the NRC.

On July 15, Inhofe led eight Senators in a letter to Stephen Burns, chairman of the NRC, expressing concern with the NRC’s increased use of qualitative factors to justify new regulatory requirements that are not cost-justified under the Backfit Rule.

On April 22, Inhofe wrote an op-ed published on titled, Obama should embrace nuclear energy.

On April 15, the Senate EPW committee held a hearing, Oversight Hearing: The President’s FY 2016 Budget Request for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to examine the president’s budget request for the NRC, fee recovery, and management issues.

On March 24, Inhofe and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chairman of the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, sent a letter to Stephen Burns, chairman of the NRC, asking for information about the NRC’s resources and efficiency.

On March 4, Inhofe led seven Senate Republicans in sending a letter to Stephen Burns, chairman of the NRC, requesting the NRC return to regulator order.

On Jan. 29, Inhofe released a statement upon the NRC completion of their technical review of the Yucca Mountain repository license application.