Marc Morano  202-224-5762 (Inhofe)
Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797 (Inhofe)
Dan Whiting 202-224-8078 (Craig)

Nuclear Not Included in Cap-and-Trade Bill


EPW Committee Chooses To Pass On Addressing Nuclear, Setting Up Another Stumbling Block For The Senate Floor


WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, together with Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), today blasted Committee Democrats for voting against amendments to the Lieberman-Warner bill that would ensure the necessary development of nuclear energy to meet the emission goals as stated in the bill. Senators Inhofe and Craig both requested votes on nuclear amendments. Every Democrat voted against the inclusion of nuclear energy in the bill, with some saying they would address nuclear issues on the Senate floor. As a result, the Committee chose to ignore the inextricable link between nuclear energy and reduction in carbon emission. Failure to address the realities of complex issues such as these will make Senate floor consideration extremely difficult.  


Senator Inhofe:


“The Democrats failure to include – and now subsequently reject – any mention of the world ‘nuclear’ in this bill just goes to show the tremendous challenges this bill will face on the Senate floor.  Any credible attempt to drastically reduce carbon emission must include nuclear. You simply cannot ignore the world's largest source of emission-free energy if you plan to cut carbon emissions and still keep the lights on.”


Senator Craig:


“The majority is turning their backs on a proven, reliable, safe, and absolutely clean power source – nuclear.  Bottom line – we can not simultaneously sustain our economy and reduce carbon emissions without nuclear power.  It must be part of the mix.  The Next Generation Nuclear Plant emits no carbon and produces hydrogen, a necessary fuel for tomorrow.”


Background Information:


According to a recent European Union report, “The renunciation of nuclear power will make it impossible to achieve the objectives set regarding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the combating of climate change". Worldwide, nuclear energy prevents the emission of more than 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.  In the U.S. alone, nuclear energy avoids almost 700 million metric tons each year.  You simply cannot argue with results. According to the Center for Global Development, nuclear plants make up 23 of the 25 largest ‘near-zero-emitting’ plants in the U.S. Since nuclear energy provides 73% of our nation’s non-emitting electricity, any credible effort to reduce carbon emissions requires increased development of new nuclear plants.


The Clean Air Task Force modeling of the Subcommittee-passed version of S. 2191 indicates that 117 gigawatts of new nuclear generation must be in operation by 2030 to meet the objectives of the bill.  117 gigawatts of new nuclear generation would prevent the emission of 702 million metric tons of carbon emissions.


Sen. Inhofe’s amendment (Inhofe Amendment #23) lays out a schedule under which new nuclear plants must begin operating in order to support that objective.  The bill requires an extremely aggressive construction rate compared to relevant history.  If nuclear energy ---- as the world’s largest, proven source of non-emitting energy ---- cannot be deployed on a schedule that supports the objectives of this bill then those objectives, by definition, are unachievable.  In that case, the amount of allowances should be frozen, without further reductions, until enough new nuclear plants can be built to meet the schedule.


Senator Craig asked for votes on two amendments. The first, Craig Amendment #27, seeks to advance nuclear power plants, like the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), operate at high temperatures that enable the technology to offer clean energy solutions to more than just the electric industry.  NGNP produces significant quantities of cost effect process heat that can be used to diversify energy supply away from expensive, carbon emitting natural gas.  This clean heat source can be used in the extraction of carbon intensive energy resources and in refining, manufacturing, and chemical processes.


Senator Craig also called for a vote on Craig amendment #27, identical to S. 37, that includes a number of provisions that are required to license, construct, and operate the Yucca Mountain repository for the permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel.  More than 100 new reactors may be required to meet the requirements of S. 2191, this amendment allows for the safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel and offers certainty for developers of future reactors.