Alexander Praises Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Approval of AP1000 Design Certification

Says U.S. invented nuclear power but has “fallen behind in embracing new reactor technology and hasn’t built a new reactor in 30 years”

Posted on December 22, 2011

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“Nuclear power produces 70 percent of our country’s pollution-free electricity and has the best safety record of any form of energy production. This new design will make it easier to produce the huge amount of clean energy our economy needs to create good private-sector jobs.” –Lamar Alexander

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today praised the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s progress on approving design certifications for the AP1000, a pressurized water reactor with passive safety features, meaning it does not require operator action to shut down safely during an emergency.

“The United States invented nuclear power but we have fallen behind other countries in embracing new reactor technology and haven’t built a new reactor in 30 years. Nuclear power produces 70 percent of our country’s pollution-free electricity and has the best safety record of any form of energy production. This new design will make it easier to produce the huge amount of clean energy our economy needs to create good private-sector jobs.”

In August, at a Senate Energy and Water Committee hearing, Alexander had urged NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko “to complete without delay the design certifications for the AP1000.”

Alexander said then: “We have an aging nuclear fleet. We haven’t built a new reactor in 30 years. Twenty-five or 30 years from now, this commission will have to decide whether to extend the life of a lot of the older reactors. I’ve advocated building 100 new nuclear reactors over the next 20 years, and even if we did that, we’d still barely replace the reactors that we have. The Energy Information Administration estimates that the increased need for electricity will be up by 31 percent by 2035. So we’re going to need a lot of clean, reliable electricity in this country. And we can’t afford, if we want to have a high standard of living and good jobs, to lose 20 percent or 10 percent of our electricity. If we don’t have nuclear power, we’ll have to rely on coal—that’s dirtier—on gas—that’s dirtier—and who knows what the price of gas will be? And the idea of relying on windmills to provide the energy America needs is the equivalent of going to war in sailboats. So we’re going to need lots of nuclear power.”

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