Biden urged to preserve US nuclear fleet

22 April 2021

Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee Joe Manchin has urged President Joe Biden to support the continued operation of the USA's civil nuclear fleet and prevent further plant closures. In a 20 April letter to the President, Manchin said that preventing the closure of existing nuclear plants is critical to achieving emission reductions and grid reliability.

Manchin chaired the Senate Committee's 25 March video-streamed session

The total number of nuclear plants in the USA has fallen over the past two decades from 104 to 94, some 5.1 GW of nuclear capacity is anticipated to go offline this year, Manchin said in the letter. "[W]ithout any change in policy half of the current nuclear fleet will retire by 2030. In 2019, nuclear prevented 476 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted and represented 55% of total emission-free electricity in the United States. Any further closures would be detrimental to meeting any climate goals," he said.

"I appreciate your leadership in supporting nuclear power plants' continued operation and the role nuclear plays in combatting climate change. I urge you to take action to preserve our existing nuclear fleet and prevent further closures. I believe the federal government must use all the tools it has to protect this vital resource, to the maximum extent consistent with the health and safety of the public.

Manchin's letter follows a hearing held by the committee last month on the importance of maintaining the USA's position as a global leader in nuclear energy. At that hearing, Manchin highlighted nuclear's role in providing reliable, affordable power, reducing global carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

"Without new construction or the preservation of the existing nuclear fleet in the US, achieving a sustainable energy system will be more challenging and expensive ... Every year in the US, nuclear-generated electricity prevents more than 506 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. If we are serious about meeting our climate goals without sacrificing reliability, we must protect our existing fleet. Why then is the US fleet decreasing and why are we taking them offline?" Manchin said at that meeting.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News