In an effort to spur the United States towards a new age of nuclear power, President Obama announced yesterday that Southern Company would receive $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to construct two new reactors in Georgia. It’s been over 30 years since a nuclear plant has been constructed in the US, and these federal guarantees are essential to the creation of new reactors due to the high initial cost involved. President Obama cast the loan guarantees as economically essential and politically attractive, however we have to ask — why aren’t such significant investments being made into cleaner renewable energy solutions such as wind and solar?
The news comes after Obama recently announced his budget proposal for the DOE, which set aside $36 billion in loan guarantee authority for new nuclear power facilities and $793 million for research into nuclear energy production. These funds will be essential to overcoming the tremendous initial costs of constructing a plant (up to $12 billion), and signal the onset of a nuclear renaissance in the states. The last US nuclear power plant was built in 1977, and there are plans for at least 6 new nuclear plants over the next decade.
The Obama administration is promoting nuclear power as a way to cut carbon emissions while generating high-tech jobs, however it’s hard to call nuclear power a clean source of energy granted all of the radioactive waste that it produces. There’s also the potential for cataclysmic meltdowns, which leads us to ask – why not spend that money investing in cleaner, safer renewable energy such as solar and wind? What do you think? Sound off in the comments!