Letter To President Elect Urges Support For Nuclear Power

More than 40 academics, business leaders and prominent citizens have penned an open letter to president-elect Donald Trump and former Texas governor Rick Perry, Trump's pick for U.S. Secretary of Energy, urging the upcoming administration to support nuclear power and to help the U.S. industry grow in both domestic and foreign marketplaces.

Environmental ProgressThe letter calls attention to the stiff competition from foreign countries, especially China that now has “at least five different nuclear designs” into which it is committing significant investment, the large subsidies awarded to wind and solar power initiatives and the low price of natural gas. “We are writing as scientists, economists, conservationists and citizens to urge you to take strong action to save and grow America's nuclear energy sector,” the letter begins. It also notes that Canada “is supporting the development of a first-of-kind reactor that uses chemical salts rather than water as a coolant. The design precludes meltdowns and could be cheaper than current models.”

While demand growth for electricity in the United States has stalled, “global demand for electricity is set to rise 70 percent in 25 years thanks to the rise of energy-hungry developing nations around the world,” the letter says, noting that support for nuclear power would do more to mitigate the rising threat of climate change and air pollution in general than “any number of United Nations treaties.”

The wording of the letter sidesteps Mr. Trump's statements on climate change which run contrary to current scientific opinions at a time in which zero C02 emissions is one of nuclear power's most persuasive selling points. The president-elect has scoffed at the notion that climate change even exists, calling the idea a “hoax” perpetrated by China.

At the same time, according to a New York Times in an article published Nov. 19, the president-elect has many “clashing” viewpoints with the United Nations. A strained relationship there may open the door for industries to treat the United Nation's dismissively.

The letter, which was sent by the group Environmental Progress (EP), was signed by the EP's president Michael Shellenberger, Mark Perry, a scholar with The American Enterprise Institute, Pulitzer Prize recipient Richard Rhodes (author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb), Peter Raven, winner of the National Medal of Science in 2001 and Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.

The group also calls for a return to a less regulated environment for nuclear power companies. “We can’t afford to leave global competition to chance. A better approach would be modeled on President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” initiative. Recognizing that cheap electricity is a key driver of economic growth and job creation, Eisenhower’s program financed the peaceful use of nuclear power around the world 'to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world,'” the letter says.

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