Last week, CQ Roll Call held a discussion on America’s Energy Future sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The event featured remarks and insights into the United States’ energy challenges from government and industry leaders. Covering a wide range of energy topics — from government regulation to renewable energy to reliance on natural gas — the forum included robust discussion of the future of nuclear energy in the United States.
Senators Ron Wyden and Lisa Murkowski of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources both agreed that America’s ability to meet its own energy needs depends on a new era of bipartisan cooperation and an openness to developing all types of new energy. Representative Ed Whitfield highlighted the impact that the Fukushima accident has had on increased regulations on U.S. nuclear plants and his hope that nuclear waste storage in Yucca Mountain will resume.
The forum concluded with a spirited panel discussion of America’s energy needs and the future of energy development, particularly nuclear power generation. The panel guests included:
- Vicky Bailey, BHMM Energy Services
- Ross Eisenberg, National Association of Manufacturers
- Elgie Holstein, Environmental Defense Fund
- William Levis, President, PSEG Power
While the panel agreed that America must diversify its energy sources, there were a myriad of proposals for how to do so. Levis noted that nuclear energy will be providing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity moving forward, but the potential exists for that number to increase. Bailey, who sat on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, explained that in order to advance nuclear power further, the United States has to operate its current fleet of nuclear plants safely, improve public perception of radiation’s impact on public health and address the issue of nuclear waste storage. Additionally, Holstein highlighted that climate change concerns have caused many in the environmental community to accept nuclear power as a carbon-neutral energy option, but that the economic challenges and waste concerns must be resolved.