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  • Guest Blogger: Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Energy Debate's Missed Nuclear Opportunity

    Next month, global leaders will gather in Copenhagen to demonstrate their commitment to reducing carbon emissions and creating ecologically sustainable solutions to power our economy in the 21st century. Indeed, a moment has arrived when the world is looking to the United States to set the tone and serve as a model worthy of emulation – to be, as it were, a carbon-free city upon an ever-green hill.

    That is, if we can keep the lights on.

    America’s economic strength was forged on the back of abundant, affordable, carbon-intensive energy. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is undoubtedly important but it will take patience, prudence, and most important- money. Carbon-free energy, in all forms, comes with a significant cost.

    Congress has pursued a strategy of taxing fossil fuels in order to discourage their consumption and has heavily subsidized alternative energy sources like wind and solar in an effort to expand deployment of zero carbon energy sources. This strategy ignores an inconvenient truth – renewable energy cannot meet the nation’s everyday power demands.

    These resources must be developed but current technological, geographic and economic constraints limit their potential. The sad truth is that many of these resources are most abundant in remote regions, require massive amounts of land, and at present, generate variable and limited amounts of energy. In 2007, wind, geothermal and solar energy accounted for just a combined 2.5% of the nation’s electricity generation.

    The conspicuously missing link in the recent climate debate has been the most efficient and proven source of carbon-free energy – nuclear power. Any realistic climate change policy must include support for the only source of clean, dependable, and relatively inexpensive energy. In 2008, the 104 nuclear reactors operating in the United States produced more than 800 billion kilowatt-hours, equal to 19% of our total electricity output and representing nearly 75% of U.S. carbon-free electricity.

    For 30 years, economic and social constraints sidelined the development of nuclear power in the United States. Today, social and economic shifts have placed the nuclear industry on the cusp of a renaissance. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is currently reviewing applications for 26 new reactors that would provide an additional 34,000 megawatts of electricity. Even as our economy struggles and job losses mount, nuclear energy remains a sign of hope, creating almost 15,000 jobs in the last three years as communities anticipate new plant development.

    Yet clean, safe nuclear energy continues to stir fears that hearken to earlier times of environmental suspicion and political bias. In more than 50 years of operation, however, not a single American has lost his or her life as a result of commercial nuclear power. Building on decades of experience, new reactor designs are more efficient, affordable and safe.

    We have only scratched the surface of nuclear energy’s potential. Advanced reactor designs could revolutionize the auto industry with hydrogen fuel cells, or close the fuel cycle completely- turning the earth’s most volatile natural resources into electricity for millions. Yet it will take decades to completely close the fuel cycle- even longer if America continues to sit on the sidelines.

    In the late 1970s, fears of global proliferation prompted the Carter administration to abandon domestic reprocessing. Regrettably, America still lags behind other nations that are already producing safe, clean nuclear technologies and developing new methods to secure and reprocess nuclear waste. The American solution for waste disposal – a proposed geologic repository at Yucca Mountain – appears destined never to open its doors. Such delays are the unfortunate result of decades of bad policy, which, if unchanged, will only widen the energy gap, hinder carbon goals, and weaken our energy security.

    Still in its infancy, nuclear power is nonetheless a titan in the energy world. If the United States wants to fight the battle against carbon emissions and lead the global economy, we must build upon the innovation and entrepreneurial edge that nuclear technology has given us. Decisions today will reverberate for decades. It is time for us, as a nation, to reassert our commitment to this promising clean energy solution.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Guest Blogger: Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) on Energy Debate's Missed Nuclear Opportunity

    1. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Thanks first for your solidarity and principle, voting against the madness. Nuclear Energy is doomed by fiat, the dictates of the Demolition Plutocrats who mean to destroy all American Energy, the whole Industry. I wish Republicans wouldn't go along with Junk Science, but of course any Real Solution demands Nuclear. Clean Coal can get us by until these Reactors can be built. But unless you can break the Infiltraitor stranglehold on our government, good luck doing anything sensible.

    2. Mary,Cleveland, OH says:

      There is no such thing as "zero carbon energy." We need carbon. Without this basic element, life would not exist. I do not know where these politicians come up with these crazy ideas.

    3. GN Las Vegas says:

      It seems to me that we aren't in a fight to reduce carbon emissions, since climate-gate has been brought to light. I realize that it will take awhile for the people who were convinced that greenhouse gasses were the responsibility of the human race, to come around to their senses and get on board with those of us with more common sense. There is proven science to suggest there is no such thing as a greenhouse affect from CO2. Now I agree with the development of more nuclear energy due to the fact that it is very economical and would have a positive affect on our economy, unlike this high priced so called green energy. I live in Nevada and our ungreat and unwise senator Reid decided to kill Yucca Mountain, which would have sustain countless jobs for this state as well as for the nation. It would have solved the issue of storage for the waste from nuclear power plants. This would have allowed the building of these plant to be more palatable for people. I believe that by killing these more economical energy sources it makes the democratic left agenda of green conspiracy easier to employ..Don't kid yourself the green movement is a conspiracy larger than anything you can imagine. It's agenda is to redistribute our wealth in order to bring this great country inline with the rest of the mediocrity in the world!!!!

    4. Clearfield, Utah says:

      Powerful people in government and business do not care to carry out policies, procedures and campaigns that reduce their financial and power positions. So it is not likely that these selfish, avaricious and predatory people will do what is best for the freedom and prosperity of the bulk of mankind, for their aim is to enrich and establish themselves, no matter the cost and consequences.

    5. Bill, Forney, TX says:

      The inconvenient truth is that the carbon-free crowd has selected less feesible (& more expensive) technologies as the preferred source of the carbon-based power they are trying to strip from the electrical grid. Al Gore, for one, is heavily invested in these other technologies. Nuclear energy would also greatly lessen the money to be made by somebody selling carbon credits. It's a lose-lose for those who have always been in the anti-nuke camp since the mid-70's. I've posted for years that nuclear is the way to go and sensible heads must prevail as we seek reliable, home-grown solutions to future power increases (not decreases as the green-crowd would have).

    6. Jim - Gadsden Alabam says:

      Cong. Issa is right, but does not include the nutty thing

      Mr. Obama has done (even though "O" claims to be "pro-nuclear")

      1) He has removed the minor streamlining of the approval

      process that Mr. Bush had put in place. With the Bush

      changes the total time for planning/construction would

      be 10/11 years. With the Obama plan it is back to 15 yrs.

      (approximately) (The Chinese have preplaned sites and

      have reduced the construction time to three years)

      2) Mr Obama has eliminated the program to reprocess

      waste overseas. We have enough waste on hand to power

      104 plants for about 70 yrs. if reprocessed. Jim K.

    7. Brian, Milwaukee, WI says:

      It's a amazing that we have developed the technology to put a man on the moon yet still burn inefficient and polluting coal to generate our electric power. The politicians and special interest groups have to get their heads out of the sand.

    8. Tim Az says:

      Issa's words in closing demonstrate that he believes in the cause of socialism implemented through the manufactured science that supports global warming. He just wants to persue socialism more slowly. We don't need another liberal republican. We need congressmen who's purpose is to represent the will of the people rather than to attend cocktail parties arranged by DC elitists.

    9. Bruce, San Jose says:

      Nuclear Energy is the wide open solution, in every respect.

      Unfortunately, I am in agreement with November 30 Clearfield, Utah, no solution is sought by the House of Reps, only an agenda, in a pre-formed format, limiting our choices in identifying and resolving any issue, leaving us in the position to acquiesce in dependence of a tyrannical government. In dependence, or Independence.

    10. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      Tim,Congressman Darrell Issa, was and is a very sucessful business man in the private sector.

      Don't you keep up on the news. this is the guy that has another great plan for health reform.I know I went to his townhall on health reform!

      This is the guy who is trying to bring down Acorn.

      This is the guy who really represents, we the people, he has his own millions.

      He is far from a socialist, he is using his brains, not his pocket book like most people in Washington. Go on his web site, you might like what you see.

      He is right, along with drilling, drilling & more drilling. The only reason this government is trying to shove global warming down our throats, it will be profitable for them. Also so they can put us under the UN dictators treaties!

      Have you noticed our constitution doesn't matter anymore. Where is our Supreme Courty when we need them?

    11. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      I know for a fact that Obama prevented a facility to be opened to store used nuclear waste. We need this facility.

      I don't know of 1 thing President Obama has done to help our country move forward! All I see he spends 3 times the money, for what, more welfare and food stamps. This isn't working, we need a President that at least somewhat cares about the country. Hey, I care, thats all it would take, not oh! lets destroy the country!

      Where the heck is the Supreme Court. Our government isn't taking over our private industry is it. oh, no. Freedom loving governments don't do that, only dictators!

    12. Tim Az says:

      Linda he may be all these things you say. But if he can't bring himself before a public forum and denounce global warming as the fraud that it is. And the true intentions behind global warming fraud. Then I have to question the depth of his convictions.

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