The federal government is warning the country’s nuclear power plant operators that they need to think about the long-term economic impact of carbon emissions and climate change before deciding to build new nuclear plants.
The federal government, in a report released Wednesday, says that if existing nuclear plants continue to operate at the current rate, emissions from CO2-emitting plants could hit 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2040.
That figure includes both existing and new nuclear facilities.
It’s a sharp increase over previous projections by the federal government.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a report in January projecting that emissions would be as high as 2.4 million tonnes by 2038.
The report, which is expected to be finalized by the end of June, says the federal estimate is not accurate because of factors like the amount of new nuclear power planned in the country and the fact that new nuclear capacity is not necessarily offset by the construction of existing facilities.
“Nuclear energy is an expensive form of energy,” said Brian Bickford, senior energy adviser for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“We have to think of the long term costs of emissions in the electricity sector.
We can’t make that case if we have to go back to the 1960s.”
The report comes as the Trump administration has been moving forward with the construction and operation of a nuclear power station in Texas, despite concerns about the potential negative impact of emissions from new nuclear plant projects.
Last month, the Department of Energy announced a $100 million investment in Texas to help build new power plants that will be able to handle higher CO2 levels than those planned for existing nuclear facilities, but not to the same extent.
The Department of Interior announced the same day it is building a new nuclear energy facility near the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, the Trump Administration has ordered construction of a new power plant near the Texas border in the face of declining demand for electricity from renewable sources.