Jeff Miller Thinks Nukes Create Clean Energy! OMG!
Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 12:40pm
Dear Ms. Dixey,
Thank you for contacting me regarding nuclear energy. I appreciate having the opportunity to know your views on issues of importance to Northwest Florida and our nation.
In order to sustain continued economic growth, it is vital that we adopt a national energy policy that takes a diversified approach to energy generation. Our nation has numerous hydrocarbon and renewable energy sources at its disposal. One of my priorities in Congress is advocating policies to reduce emissions, our dependence on foreign oil and foster economic growth through cheaper, cleaner renewable energy resources. We must also realize that current hydrocarbon resources remain an essential element in our energy portfolio. Additionally, I believe that any truly comprehensive energy policy should recognize the importance of nuclear energy. Last year, the nuclear power industry generated 807 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. This represented about 20% of all electricity produced last year and was nearly equal to the nation’s entire electrical output in 1960.
Modern nuclear power plants generate clean electricity in an incredibly efficient manner. Bringing more of these plants online would reduce our dependence on other sources of electricity and lead to substantial savings for consumers. Significant incentives for the construction of new reactors were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, including loan guarantees, tax credits and insurance against regulatory delays. Recent volatile fuel prices have exemplified the inherent instability of global energy markets and helped to spur renewed interest in nuclear power from utility companies and consumers alike.
Design standards for nuclear power plants require that safety structures and components be designed to withstand the effects of earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods without losing the capability to perform safety function. This includes the necessity to maintain the integrity of the reactor coolant pressure boundary, the capability to shut down and maintain the reactor in a safe condition and the capability to prevent or mitigate any potential offsite exposure.
Interest in nuclear safety intensified following the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in March 2011. The earthquake, which registered 9.0 on the Richter scale, caused an automatic shutdown of 11 of Japan’s 55 operating nuclear power plants. Most of the shutdowns proceeded without incident. However, the plants closest to the epicenter, Fukushima and Onagawa were damaged by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Prior to this event, in 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a Safety/Risk Assessment on existing nuclear power plant sites, based on updated probabilistic seismic hazards in the Central and Eastern U.S. (CEUS) as released by the United States Geological Survey. This assessment suggests that the probability for an earthquake above the seismic design basis for some nuclear plants in the CEUS remains low.
In response to the events in Japan, the NRC announced that it had identified 27 nuclear reactors operating in the CEUS that would receive priority earthquake safety reviews. Additionally, the NRC created a task force to conduct both short and long term analyses of the lessons that can be learned from the situation in Japan. In May, they released the results of their short term analysis, which did not identify any issues that undermine confidence in the continued safety and emergency planning at current U.S. nuclear reactors.
We cannot meet our energy demands with a single energy source. As we continue to pursue new technology and clean renewable energy, we cannot discard other sources that are currently viable. We must always remain vigilant and promote technological improvements to protect our health and environment; however, we cannot allow apprehension to engender stagnation.
If you would like to receive further information on issues of importance to you, please log on to my website at http://www.house.gov/jeffmiller.   As always, please feel free to contact my office if you have any further concerns.
Member of Congress Sincerely,