In the News

Japan and Future of U.S. Nuclear Power

Joseph Romm and Richard Caperton on ensuring that nuclear power is safe for the American public.

Authors

  • Joseph Romm
  • Richard W. Caperton

The recent history of the U.S. nuclear industry suggests that nuclear power can be a safe source of low-carbon electricity. But disasters can happen very quickly, with potentially cataclysmic results.

The loss of coolant, explosions and apparent partial meltdown of nuclear plants in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami remind us that nuclear power is inherently risky. The U.S. government and the nuclear industry must take new actions to ensure that nuclear power is safe for the American public.

New nuclear reactors are phenomenally expensive, costing up to $10 billion dollars apiece. Exelon CEO John Rowe said recently that the combination of low natural gas prices and failure of Congress to put a price on carbon dioxide pollution pushes back any significant nuclear renaissance by a "decade, maybe two."

The U.S. nuclear industry has long argued that new reactors are prohibitively expensive because of an overly burdensome site selection and permitting process, which they say unnecessarily drives up costs. But, in fact, new nuclear plants have seen soaring prices not just in Florida, Texas and other states — but in Finland, Turkey and Canada.

The above excerpt was originally published in CNN. Click here to view the full article.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Authors

Joseph Romm

Senior Fellow

Richard W. Caperton

Managing Director, Energy