Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Plants Go Belly Up in Democratic Districts. Then What?
Most declining plants are in blue areas, and Congress is taking notice

There wasn’t much celebration when the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut its doors — just worry over how to decommission. (Michael Springer/Getty Images file photo)

In Vermont, the relationship between the town of Vernon and its nuclear power plant, known as the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, had always been contentious.

From 1970s-era antinuclear protests to more recent legal battles over a proposal to extend the plant’s license, Vermont residents and their state legislature kept a skeptical eye on the power source, which at one point provided some 70 percent of the state’s electricity.

Failures of Congress Keep Nuclear Waste Scattered Across the US
Government’s liability is $34 billion and growing as communities wait and wait some more

A sign warns away trespassers near the shuttered Zion Nuclear Power Station along the shore of Lake Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

In Zion, Illinois, 257 acres of prime lakefront property about 40 miles northwest of Chicago should be at the center of a redevelopment plan to revive a struggling community caught in the aftermath of a closed nuclear plant, says its mayor, Al Hill.

But after decades of federal inaction on a comprehensive strategy to move the nation’s high-level radioactive waste from some 121 sites across the country, Zion and its local officials are coming to the same stark realization as many other communities with shuttered or aging plants: The federal government’s foot-dragging on nuclear waste policy may seem as long as the radioactive materials’ 10,000-year half-life.

Opinion: A New Climate of Realism Emerges in Energy Debate
Progressives and conservatives must embrace ideas and partners they’ve shunned before

The North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Virginia. Non-carbon sources of energy, including nuclear, must be fully embraced if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, Grumet writes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Two mainstay and false arguments of the climate debate — “It’s all a hoax” and “Renewable energy alone can save us” — are beginning to lose steam.

In place of the scientific, engineering and economic denial that has marred the last two decades of debate, a new coalition that acknowledges the growing risks of climate change and embraces a broader set of solutions is emerging. Whether the motivation here is the slow drip of evidence, the destabilizing effect of careening federal policy, or simply exhaustion, a new climate of realism is gaining adherents in industry, among advocates, and on Capitol Hill. For this movement to take hold, progressives and conservatives must both embrace ideas and partners they’ve doubted or shunned in the past.

Yucca Mountain’s Lone Ranger Finally Corrals House Attention
Nuclear waste bill passes easily in House, faces roadblocks in Senate

Rep. John Shimkus says his aggressive questioning of Obama-era energy officials reflected his “righteous anger.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Visiting Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011 was like walking through a ghost town, Rep. John Shimkus recalled in an interview this week.

It was the year after the Obama administration surrendered to fervent local opposition and halted work by the Department of Energy to prepare the site to store the nation’s commercial nuclear waste, even though Congress designated it for that purpose in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Analysis: Trump’s Iran Policy Unmoored From Facts
U.S. dropping out of 2015 multinational agreement

President Donald Trump’s White House speech on the Iran deal included some inaccurate statements and omissions of fact.  (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the U.S. government would drop out of the 2015 multinational agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear activities. His White House speech included inaccurate statements and omissions of fact that reflect either misunderstanding of the accord or an effort to distort the historical record.

“At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction, that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program,” Trump said. Actually, it was the concern that Iran might be creating the ability to build weapons that led to the 2015 deal.

Bipartisan Support for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Bill — Except in Nevada
State’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments, but hardly any reached the floor

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., says “people are ready to do something” on a bill that would pave the way for storing nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will take up legislation this week that would help restart the stalled process for making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a central repository for commercial nuclear waste. After years of false starts and misses, the bill is moving with bipartisan support.

In Nevada, however, there is bipartisan opposition to the Yucca project, and the state’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments meant to ensure that the House would consider key safety provisions for the project, which is located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and adjacent to the land where the government tested nuclear weapons.

The Hottest Holiday Parties on the Hill
Are you on the list?

The holidays are party time in D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s the holiday season, which in D.C. means parties for politicos, hosted by nearly every lobbying shop and communications firm in town. 

Despite the busy days of legislating ahead, the party starts this week and goes through the end of the year.

Plan to Boost Coal and Nuclear Could Cost Consumers
Should consumers pay more so coal and nuclear plants can survive?

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Oct. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For years, federal regulation of the electric grid has focused on keeping prices low and competition stiff. But that could change with a recent proposal from the Trump administration to put more emphasis on what it calls resiliency.

According to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the electric grid is more resilient — able to bounce back from disasters of the natural and man-made variety — when it has plenty of so-called baseload power that can run 24/7, with or without sunshine or wind and regardless of supply snags.

Summer of Storms Tests Energy Resilience
Lawmakers, administration battle over what it means to rebuild

A downed electric pole sits in mud in Jayuya, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 9, more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Puerto Rico experienced widespread damage including most of the electrical, gas and water grid. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

While the Trump administration proposes to make the nation’s electric grid more “resilient” by propping up nuclear and coal-fired power plants, a wide range of energy advocates say there are better — and greener — ways to achieve the same goal.

And they are urging leaders to heed the lessons provided by the massive storms that took down electricity lines in parts of Texas and Florida and left U.S. island territories in the Caribbean in the dark for weeks.

Senate Energy Committee Eulogizes the Late Sen. Pete Domenici