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EPA Regulations Killing Clean Energy
Posted By Emily Goff On December 15, 2010 @ 4:00 pm In Energy and Environment | 25 Comments
In sharp contrast to the pro-nuclear energy rhetoric of the Administration , some nuclear power plant owners are considering shutting down their facilities. Exelon, owner of the New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, recently announced  that it plans to close the plant 10 years early because of EPA regulations aimed at reducing the environmental impact of plants’ cooling water intake systems.
Currently, Oyster Creek employs the accepted “best technology available”—based on a site-specific cost-benefit analysis—and uses water from nearby Barnegat Bay to cool the reactor. This is no longer good enough for regulators. The EPA’s revision of Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act  determines that the thermal discharge released into the Bay from this “once-through” cooling system is too damaging to organisms there. Oyster Creek would have had to install large cooling towers to accommodate the new rule, but spending eight years and $700–800 million simply did not make economic sense.
This latest mandate is costly to the American people and denies them a reliable source of clean energy. Further, it is unclear whether the EPA mandate achieves its alleged purpose of protecting the environment. Indeed, some have suggested that there are actually non-invasive species that thrive in the bay because of the warm water produced by Oyster Creek. Either way, ecosystems are resilient and are generally able to support natural biological quantity and quality with nuclear plant current cooling systems, as a Heritage Foundation article on New York’s Indian Point power plant  reported.
So what will replace the roughly 625 MW of electricity when Oyster Creek powers down? Wind and solar energy are unreliable, requiring backup when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining. Natural gas and coal are more expensive than nuclear, with costs of 5 cents per kilowatt hour and 2.97 cents per kilowatt hour to produce, respectively, compared to 2.03 cents for nuclear .
Interestingly, New Jersey is considering a bill that would guarantee utilities a minimum output price for constructing natural gas plants. But this is not a good idea. Electric Power Supply Association President and CEO John Shelk accurately states that subsidizing select energy sources affects the future market  of all sources, and it could lead to higher prices in the end. Simply put, this mandate is wasteful and will cost consumers..
Such sweeping action by the EPA is clearly not the best solution. A good solution would:
Regulating an industry into decline, a situation this policy foreshadows, imposes undue electricity costs on consumers, does away with a perfectly dependable, emissions-free energy source, and dampens prospects for nuclear energy’s growth. Representative Fred Upton (R–MI), the incoming chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, puts it well :
At a time when we are woefully unprepared to meet our nation’s growing energy demands, we should be working to bring more power online, rather than shutting down plants.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/12/15/the-epa-threat-to-existing-nuclear-power/
URLs in this post:
 pro-nuclear energy rhetoric of the Administration: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-energy-lanham-maryland
 recently announced: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703766704576009572158054218.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
 EPA’s revision of Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/316b/index.cfm
 Heritage Foundation article on New York’s Indian Point power plant: http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2010/04/a-sneak-attack-on-your-electric-bill
 2.03 cents for nuclear: http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/reliableandaffordableenergy/graphicsandcharts/uselectricityproductioncosts/
 subsidizing select energy sources affects the future market: http://www.epsa.org/forms/uploadFiles/196C200000054.filename.PR-28_EPSA_Continues_to_Oppose_NJ_Plant_Subsidy_Legislation.pdf
 underwater screens, barrier nets, and fish return systems: http://content.thirdway.org/publications/346/TW_Memo_-_Keep_316_b_Flexible_to_Protect_the_Environment.pdf
 substantial property tax increase: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/top_three/article_6ea42408-03d6-11e0-b685-001cc4c002e0.html
 puts it well: http://dailycaller.com/2010/12/09/epa-regulations-force-power-plant-out-of-business-more-to-follow/
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