Vol. 2 (1) Jul. 2020
Article ID. JHSSR-1022-2020
Bad Faith Arguments for More Nuclear Power
Nuclear Power, Energy Policy, Electric Grid, United States, Climate Change, Reactionary Politics
In the US, the decline of the nuclear industry has often been portrayed in the media and in politics as a result of partisanship and public fear. This essay argues that such claims, at least for the development of new facilities, are being made in bad faith, and that the industry’s problems have more to do with technical, logistical and market difficulties that strain the financial viability of new projects. Because markets in the electricity sector are regulated, political rhetoric can have a significant, though diffuse, impact on market-making policies for all potential new energy assets connected to the electric grid, and so it is important that this rhetoric takes seriously the range of issues involved. To encourage better sense-making, this article summarizes, at a high level, the basic obstacles facing the development of new nuclear power facilities in the US, including the fragmentation of electrical markets, a failure to develop standardized designs, the slow pace of technological innovation, limits imposed by distribution and transmission systems, and troubles with waste and the environmental impacts of water use and uranium mining.