Next-Gen Reactors: How Nuclear Innovation Can Support Growth and a Healthy Climate

By and / 5.11.2016

The U.S. Supreme Court has put President Obama’s Clean Power Plan on hold while lower courts review challenges to the regulation. The ruling is a setback to Obama’s hopes of bypassing a hostile Republican majority in Congress and using his executive authority to require electric utilities to make big reductions in carbon emissions.

At last year’s Paris climate summit, the administration pledged to make deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. With the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in limbo, Washington has no plausible mechanism for getting anywhere near those goals.

In truth, however, the United States would fall well short of those goals even if the CPP survives legal challenges. For one thing, the rule covers the power sector, which accounts for only about 31 percent of U.S. emissions. What’s more, the United States will have to put carbon reductions into overdrive, roughly doubling their current pace, to meet the administration’s ambitious commitments in Paris.

Rather than put all of its climate protection eggs in the CPP basket, the White House clearly needs a broader strategy for making sure that America can do its part to slow down global warming. A key component of such a strategy must be expanding America’s biggest source of zero-carbon energy: nuclear power.

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*Note: A previous version omitted a citation to Dr. Ashley Finan’s testimony. We regret this error.