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 Home > News & Policies > June 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 21, 2007

Fact Sheet: Expanding the Safe Use of Nuclear Power
President Bush Discusses Nuclear Power, Calls On Congress To Pass An Energy Bill

     Fact sheet In Focus: Energy

Today, President Bush Toured Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant In Alabama And Discussed His Administration's Energy Policy, Including The Importance Of Expanding Nuclear Power. Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 is the first U.S. nuclear reactor to come online in the 21st century. Shut down in 1985 due to management and operational concerns, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided in 2002 to restart the unit and has done so on time and on budget. This unit has the capacity to supply electricity to about 650,000 homes.

  • Nuclear Power Is Part Of The Administration's Energy Strategy, Which Includes Pursuing Alternatives To Oil And Taking Advantage Of New Technologies. In 1985, about 27 percent of our oil came from abroad; today, about 60 percent of our oil comes from abroad. U.S. dependence on oil creates national security, economic, and environmental risks, so the President has set a "Twenty in Ten" goal of cutting U.S. consumption of gasoline by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

  • President Bush Commends Congress For Considering Legislation To Help Bring America Closer To Meeting His "Twenty In Ten" Goal, And Challenges Them To Take A Bolder Approach To Strengthen America's Energy Security. Reaching the President's goal will require:

  • Setting An Alternative Fuels Standard: The President's proposal will require the equivalent of 35 billion gallons of renewable and other alternative fuels by 2017 - a standard that is nearly five times the current 2012 target and more aggressive than that required by the Senate energy bill.

  • Reforming And Modernizing CAFE Standards: The Administration has twice increased CAFE standards for light trucks using an attribute-based method, which reduces the risk that vehicle safety is compromised and helps preserve consumer choice. The Administration seeks the same reform for passenger vehicles. The increased vehicle fuel economy standard proposed by the President could save up to 8.5 billion gallons of gasoline per year by 2017.

  • Doubling The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Capacity: The President has proposed doubling the size of the SPR to further protect against severe disruptions to the world's oil supply that threaten our national and economic security.

  • The President Has Also Proposed Steps To Increase Domestic Oil Production. The President's proposal would take immediate steps to increase supply and better protect America from fluctuations in oil and natural gas prices by approving drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and ANWR and continuing onshore access improvements. In contrast, the Senate energy bill would do nothing to increase domestic supplies of oil and natural gas for American homes and businesses.

The World Is Seeing The Promise And Potential Of The Peaceful Use Of Nuclear Energy

Today, Nuclear Power Provides Almost Twenty Percent Of The United States' Electricity. In addition, nuclear power provides 78 percent of the electricity for France, 50 percent of the electricity for Sweden, and 30 percent of the electricity for the entire European Union. China has nine nuclear plants in operation, and plans to build many more.

  • Nuclear Power Is Clean Domestic Energy. Nuclear energy produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases. Without its use, carbon dioxide emissions would have been 28 percent greater in the electricity industry in 2005 - an increase nearly equal to the annual emissions from all 136 million passenger cars in the U.S.

  • Nuclear Power Is Safe. The nuclear sector is one of the safest industries in the United States, and advances in science, engineering, and plant design have made nuclear plants even safer than the last generation of plants. Plant workers and managers focus on safety and security above all else, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors stationed full-time at plants provide daily inspections to ensure safety and security requirements are being met.

  • Nuclear Power Is Affordable And Reliable. Once a nuclear plant is constructed, fuel and operating costs are among the cheapest forms of energy available. In addition, the cost of electricity from a nuclear power plant is stable and reliable - the cost does not fluctuate like natural gas, and the flow of power is not intermittent like wind.

The Federal Government Is Helping To Expand The Safe Use Of Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power Is The Only Significant Emissions-Free Baseload Power Source That Is Able To Expand To Meet America's Growing Need For Electricity. To maintain nuclear power's current twenty-percent share of electricity generation in the U.S., experts believe it will be necessary to build an average of three new plants per year, starting in 2015. Partially as a result of litigation and complex regulations, however, no new nuclear plants have been ordered in the U.S. since the 1970s.

1. In 2003, The Administration Launched The Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative. This partnership between the U.S. government and industry is focused on reducing the technical, regulatory, and institutional barriers to deployment of new nuclear power plants. The President's 2008 budget will double the requested funding for this program to $114 million to help private industry obtain licenses for new designs.

  • By The End Of This Decade, America Should Be Able To Start Construction On Several New Nuclear Plants. To date, 20 companies and consortia have announced their intent to file license applications over the next two years with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for as many as 30 new reactors.

2. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Is Working To Improve And Streamline The Regulatory Process To Help Accelerate The Construction Of Nuclear Plants. Under the old system, the permitting process was slow and cumbersome because it limited builders to completing only one step at a time before moving on. The NRC is now implementing a more efficient review process that allows builders to complete several steps at a time without compromising safety.

3. The Energy Bill The President Signed In 2005 Provides Production Tax Credits And Federal Risk Insurance For Builders Of New Nuclear Plants. Production tax credits will reward investments in the latest in advanced nuclear power generation, and Federal risk insurance helps protect the first builders of new nuclear plants against frivolous lawsuits, bureaucratic obstacles, and other delays beyond their control.

4. The Administration Has Repeatedly Proposed Legislation To Complete A Nuclear Waste Repository Site At Yucca Mountain. Yucca Mountain is critical to expanding nuclear power in the United States because it will provide a safe geologic repository to store spent fuel and nuclear waste. The President's 2008 budget request devotes nearly $495 million to continue progress on licensing Yucca Mountain as a repository for spent fuel, and he urges Congress to pass this important legislation to move our efforts forward.

5. Under The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, America Will Work With Nations That Have Advanced Civilian Nuclear Energy Programs - Such As France, China, Japan, And Russia. The partnership will work to provide the cheap and safe energy growing economies need, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.

  • This Partnership Will Use New Technologies That Effectively And Safely Recycle Spent Nuclear Fuel. Recycling spent uranium fuel for use in advanced reactors will allow us to extract more energy and has the potential to reduce repository requirements for nuclear waste by up to 90 percent.

  • It Will Also Help Developing Countries Meet Their Growing Energy Needs By Providing Them With Small-Scale Reactors That Will Be Secure And Cost-Effective. In exchange, these countries would agree to use nuclear power only for civilian purposes and to forego sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

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