Trump’s Plan for Nuclear Revival Begins With a Study

Trump’s Plan for Nuclear Revival Begins With a StudyTrump’s Plan for Nuclear Revival Begins With a Study

US President Donald Trump has a plan to help the aging fleet of US nuclear reactors estimated to be losing nearly $3 billion a year: study the issue.

At the culmination of the White House "Energy Week," Trump is set to announce a comprehensive review of US nuclear regulation, stopping short -- for now -- of the big federal interventions advocates say are needed to revitalize the industry, which is struggling to compete against cheap natural gas and dispose of its radioactive waste, Bloomberg reported.

"I have no idea what a review will tell us that we don’t already know," said Mike McKenna, a Republican energy strategist with close ties to the administration. "For anyone who knows nuclear, there’s no doubt about what needs to be done. It’s a question of doing it -- not talking about it."

In his speech, Trump is also set to describe how growing exports of oil and natural gas are creating domestic jobs, helping allies abroad and boosting the global influence of the US, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Rescuing the nuclear industry is a costly, complex challenge for the Trump administration. Subsidizing at-risk nuclear reactors to keep them online through 2020 would require an estimated $2.9 billion annually, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates.

And making deeper market changes to better compensate nuclear power plants for the reliable, zero-carbon electricity they offer depends on action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which lacks a working quorum.

Top Trump administration officials have been touting nuclear power as an important economic and national security asset, with Energy Secretary Rick Perry promising to "make nuclear energy cool again" and insisting the US needs to regain a "leadership role" developing it.

But there are doubts about the effectiveness of the report. According to Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath Foundation, none of the earlier studies "get to the level of specificity that the administration or Congress could actually act on."

"There’s no silver bullet here. There are going to be a lot of silver arrows and we are going to have to figure out what are the 10 or 20 small things that can be done across different areas to build it up," he said.

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