Catherine Hausman: Nuclear closures magnify U.S. climate challenge for Trump

November 18, 2016

Peter Behr, E&E News Reporter, quoted Catherine Hausman in his November 17 article, "Nuclear closures magnify U.S. climate challenge for Trump." Behr reports that up to 15 percent of U.S. nuclear reactors may shut down over the next ten years because of nuclear power’s inability to compete with cheaper natural gas.

The closures are also a loss for efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Behr describes president-elect Donald Trump’s promises to bring back coal power as “further scrambling” the fight against climate change and the solvency of nuclear reactors.

Behr quotes Catherine Hausman on the effects widespread nuclear retirements will have on other energy plants. While some of the slack will be picked up by wind and solar power, she says, gas plants will benefit the most: “You have all this natural gas capacity sitting and waiting and ready to go.” Meanwhile, the shale gas revolution, she says, “leads directly to lower electricity prices,” making it more difficult for both nuclear and renewable energy plants to stay open.

Some advocate for government policies to limit environmental damage, such as a tax on carbon emissions. However, proposals like these are “anathema to the Trump policy team,” Behr says. Until we know more about what the Trump administration will do, the future is unknown for nuclear power and its competitors.