Rising gas prices and global warming hysteria seem to have had one positive effect this summer: Washington’s elite are being forced to look at nuclear energy as a serious, if not essential, option for any future energy plan. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both recently announced support for development of nuclear energy.

Whether the country elects a Democrat or a Republican as president this November, progress toward a future powered by clean, secure nuclear energy is inevitable. But what are the steps needed to ensure America re-emerges as a leader in nuclear energy, and that the industry doesn’t disappear as it did in the past?

Basic market principles provide the solutions. The keys to a market-driven nuclear industry are listed by research fellow Jack Spencer in his paper addressing nuclear’s role in a cap-and-tax world. We have not entered the nuclear renaissance yet, but we are getting closer. Our duty is to ensure that government, as it turns to nuclear power for energy solutions, allows markets to steer the future of nuclear power.

Obama doesn’t go as far as saying that nuclear energy is a panacea, and his primary concern is that a solution must be developed for nuclear waste. It’s evident that management of used nuclear fuel in the United States is in dire need of reform. The Heritage Foundation is set to release a new paper on the subject of nuclear waste, offering privatization options for that facet of the nuclear cycle. Heritage also will host a panel event tomorrow to discuss this very matter. The event, open to the public, commences at 9:30 a.m.