Obama Climate Plan Reiterates Support for Nuclear Power, SMR Development

Nuclear power remains a key component of the Obama administration's strategy for reducing U.S. carbon emissions, with the administration's support for the technology evident in a climate action plan released Tuesday.

In a speech announcing the plan, the president made an early reference to Generation III reactors under construction at the Vogtle and V.C. Summer nuclear plants: "Thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses, we're starting to produce much more of our own energy.  We're building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades in Georgia and South Carolina."

Obama also expressed support for the country's booming natural gas development, while announcing he would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to create pollution standards that would restrict power plant carbon emissions. He also said he would encourage the development of renewable power generation on public lands and military installations.

The climate plan itself offered more specifics on administration policies aimed at cleaner power production. Obama's 2014 budget proposal will request a 30 percent increase in federal money for researching clean energy technologies, including small modular reactors. The Department of Energy is currently evaluating the second round of funding for SMR design certification after awarding up to half of the $452 million set aside for the program to a Babcock & Wilcox team last fall.

The climate plan also reiterates the administration's commitment to promote nuclear power abroad by extending international agreements and knowledge sharing programs through DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Overall, the speech and the climate plan were well-received by the industry's largest trade group. Nuclear Energy Institute CEO Marvin Fertel said in a statement, "There is no debating this fact: Nuclear energy produces nearly two-thirds of America's carbon-free electricity. As a nation, we cannot reach our energy and climate goals without the reliable, carbon-free electricity that nuclear power plants generate to power our homes, businesses and infrastructure."

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  • Anonymous

    Obama has a habit of taking the side that makes sense. Natural gas and nuclear. Now, if we could only get much more funding for development of new fission technologies such as thorium etc... We should be aiming to first run most of our energy needs on 1st - natural gas + nuclear, then moving to nuclear + renewables, then hopefully to totally renewables as needed (probably several centuries).