Washington (March 19) – Over the past two decades, increasingly inflexible regulations have begun to undermine the U.S. nuclear industry just as a safer generation of reactors begins to reach the marketplace. This regulatory dysfunction threatens not only industry jobs, but also the United States’ role in countering nuclear weapons proliferation and combating climate change.
In a new policy study, R Street Federal Energy Policy Manager, William Murray explores the U.S. nuclear industry’s current regulatory structure and proposes solutions that can both support the industry’s extremely high safety standards as well as reduce the red tape and disincentives to innovate that currently surround nuclear power.
Murray argues that Congress should act quickly to pass legislation that will create a new regulatory structure for future reactors, develop and fund new technologies and safer fuels, broaden federal agencies’ use of purchase power agreements and relax some export control regulations.
A robust and profitable U.S. nuclear energy industry would add to the successes of U.S. nonproliferation policies and help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, nuclear exports to unmet markets would create a strong link between those economies and the United States. These relationships would further bolster U.S. nonproliferation goals and could last decades or longer.
The study concludes, “The removal of regulatory barriers to new nuclear technology is thus paramount for both a vibrant export economy and a safer world. With a small push from legislation and a new spirit within the industry’s most important regulatory bodies, a new day could dawn for the U.S. nuclear industry and the wider world.”