Trump’s Energy Secretary: ‘Let’s Make Nuclear Cool Again’


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Energy Secretary Rick Perry told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that making “nuclear power cool again” was a priority for his agency.

“One of the things, Hugh, you’re going to see us do is create a program that I refer to not tongue-in-cheek, but rather humorously, as let’s make nuclear cool again,” Perry said during the interview.

“If you’ll remember when we were kids growing up,” Perry said. “If you were a nuclear engineer, if you were one of these kids that were headed off to a really good engineering school, you wanted to be involved in the nuclear energy side of things, and it was cool.”

“We were going to the Moon,” Perry said. “A lot of things in America were happening at that particular point in time, nuclear power being one of those, particularly on the civil side. And you know, this country’s really let that fall through the cracks, if you will. Some of it, I think, is a thoughtful attack by those on the left that don’t like anything that happens to do with, you know, the nuclear side of things.”

Perry stated that if the U.S. doesn’t make nuclear power “cool again” and instead allows the industry to stagnate, the vacuum will be filled by Russia and China.

“If we don’t get back and become very technically capable, as we were 30 years ago, the Russians and the Chinese will fill that void,” Perry said. “And at that particular point in time, if the Russians and the Chinese fill the void of the nuclear side of things, if they’re building civil nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and South Korea.”

The U.S. is losing global influence to Russia and China by allowing its nuclear power industry to stagnate, according to a study published in May by the Global Nexus Initiative.

China is set to triple the amount of nuclear power it generates by 2026, overtaking the U.S. as the country with the most nuclear power. China plans to spend $570 billion building more than 60 nuclear power plants over the next decade. Russia’s nuclear power program is also on the rise. Some of the world’s first floating nuclear power plants are being developed in Russia, and the country is pioneering fast reactors,

Perry concluded that he hopes today’s young people will consider nuclear power too be cool because it is the best way to stop global warming.

“If you’re a millennial, and you really care about the climate of the globe, I mean, if that’s something you care about the environment out there, how can you not be for nuclear energy?” Perry said. “That is zero emissions.”

A two reactor nuclear power plant can prevent the emission of almost 9 million metric tons of CO2 annually. The report found that nuclear power is the world’s largest source of non-carbon dioxide emitting energy used in the developed world. Nuclear power accounts for 63 percent of non-CO2 emitting power sources in the U.S. and is “the most cost-effective zero-emission technology.”

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