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Trump’s pullout from Paris climate accord is NOT a good sign for the nuclear industry

Trump Paris About-Face Likely To Hurt, Not Help Nuclear, Coal Sectors, Wamstead on Energy, 

June 1, 2017 President Trump, with his fossil fuel fantasists in tow, made it official Thursday, announcing that he would pull the United States from the Paris climate change accord in order to “make America great again.” ….The issue at hand is the decision’s likely negative impact on the U.S.’ already-battered nuclear and coal industries.
For years the nuclear industry has been making the case that it was vital to the country’s climate change mitigation efforts because of its emissions-free generation profile. While accounting for just 20 percent of the nation’s annual electric generation, the industry noted ad infinitum, it was responsible for 60 percent of the carbon dioxide-free emissions . In a carbon-constrained world, that would be a valuable attribute. But the Trump administration has now made it clear that it places no value on CO2-free generation sources.
That, in turn, could be a major problem for the industry, as the effort to secure nuclear subsidies—successful so far in Illinois and New York (although now tied up in court), still pending in Ohio, Connecticut and now Pennsylvania—has relied in large part on the sector’s glowing greenhouse gas attributes. In an interesting twist, just before the administration’s head-in-the-sand announcement, Chicago-based Exelon said it would close the 837-megawatt Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in late 2019 because the facility couldn’t compete in the PJM electricity market, which sprawls across 13 states and the District of Columbia. The company largely blamed the market’s structure, including its failure to reward the plant for its emissions-free generation, for its decision to shutter the plant…..
the argument falls apart when the federal government, from the very top on down, essentially says such generation has no special value, and that is exactly what the administration has just done. If nuclear can’t clear the market economically—and TMI has not for the past three years—and policymakers don’t value its one unique attribute—emissions-free power—how then can you make a persuasive argument to keep the facility open……
What Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic governor will do remains to be seen, and there are good arguments to be made on both sides. But unless the state’s Republicans have the fortitude to stand up to President Trump and his toadies, nuclear’s environmental attributes no longer have any value.
The same is true for the surprisingly bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to expand tax credits and approve other measures designed to spur the development of carbon capture and storage technologies.  One such measure, the Carbon Capture Improvement Act introduced this spring in both the Senate and House, would allow companies to use private activity bonds issued by states or localities to finance carbon capture projects. These bonds, commonly used for infrastructure such as water and sewer projects, are tax exempt and have a longer repayment period, lowering a project’s development cost……
Today, we have an administration that doesn’t even believe in climate change, let alone carbon capture, so what value is there in offering federal support for such projects……..
The administration’s action undercuts those arguing to keep open the nation’s existing fleet of economically challenged but emissions-free nuclear plants; challenges the need for future nuclear construction (Why, for example, should the four over-budget, long-delayed reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina receive any preferential federal aid if climate change concerns are off the table?); and puts yet another nail in coal’s coffin by obliterating any justification to fund CO2 capture technologies.

June 5, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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