Nuclear Energy Gaining Momentum Worldwide

Nicolas Loris /

While a strong divide remains among countries for support of nuclear power in the European Union, the overall public opinion is shifting in its favor. According to a recent survey by the European Commission, 44% of Europeans favor nuclear energy as opposed to only 37% in 2005. What is more:

Should such a solution be found to safely storing the waste, some 39 percent of people say they would change their mind about nuclear energy.”

While 67% of Americans favor building new nuclear plants, much of the same skepticism about managing nuclear waste is shared here at home. The United States has 104 commercial nuclear reactors providing about 20% of the nation’s electricity, but throughout their lifetimes, they’ve accumulated about 58,000 tons of nuclear waste. They produce about 2,000 tons annually. The anti-nuclear crowd feels we should not move forward with building new plants until a rational plan to manage used nuclear fuel is developed.

The Heritage Foundation’s Jack Spencer outlined a free-market approach to managing used nuclear fuel that places the management in the hands of the private sector with appropriate government oversight. The U.S. has a lot to learn from other nations when it comes to nuclear energy, but American can be a pioneer in terms of developing an efficient solution to used fuel management.

In other news, while nuclear power is only beginning to gather domestic momentum, the United States is orchestrating high level pro-nuclear developments abroad. The U.S.-India 123 Agreement was written in August 2007 and looks to be a successful Administration foreign policy. (Additionally, the United States is pursuing a 123 Agreement with Russia.)

The U.S.-India nuclear deal involves opening trade in nuclear and nuclear-related materials between the countries, and erects a legal framework for subsequent nuclear transactions. India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has risked political capital to close the agreement which cements a closer India-U.S. friendship.

The 123 Agreement is in America’s interest because India will be obliged to follow non-proliferation conventions congruous with Administration policy, and it will open markets for U.S. nuclear services and components. As Heritage Analyst Lisa Curtis explains, the costs of a failed U.S.-India Agreement would be huge.