States and energy utilities say the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan – designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions – would penalize nuclear energy, a sector that produces no greenhouse gases, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Clean Power Plan is intended to produce a 30 percent cut in power-sector emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.
The nuclear industry has two main concerns. One is an EPA policy designed as an incentive for states to keep operating reactors “at risk” of shutting down because of market pressure or expensive safety upgrades. Industry officials say the incentive is not enough and won’t work as intended.
The second concern is about five nuclear reactors that are under construction. When the EPA wrote its emissions proposal, it counted these projects, in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, as completed. These states say this makes their emission targets difficult because they are not allowed to count these cleaner plants’ lower emissions toward their mandated cuts.
The states are also worried about meeting their targets in the event that the nuclear reactors never come online. Even if they do, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee must drop their carbon output by 44 percent, 51 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
The EPA thought it might help states with at-risk nuclear power with a 6 percent credit, which is about the amount of nuclear power thought to be at risk of shutting down nationwide.
However, nuclear industry officials say that calling the move a credit is misleading, because the 6 percent is added to the state’s total for cutting emissions. If states can’t keep their reactors afloat, then they must find another way to make up for the 6 percent.
The proposed Clean Power Plan has faced a good amount of opposition since it was introduced. In July, a number of industry groups sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy warning that the carbon rules for existing power plants were “not workable.”
The proposal is due to be finalized in June 2015.
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