Here’s The Biggest Development That Emerged From COP28 (The Daily Caller)

This op-ed was originally published by The Daily Caller on December 13, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

The strongest development coming from the annual United Nations climate conference this year was the ambitious call to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

The U.S., UK and Canada, along with more than 20 other countries, launched this initiative at the United Nations Climate Change Conference’s (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP28), an annual event that has often shunned or ignored nuclear energy as a climate solution.

To triple nuclear capacity from now until 2050, the world will have to build around 30 large reactors each year, even more, if replacing retiring capacity is necessary or if smaller reactors take off.

This goal is achievable if the U.S. gets its federal policy right. Despite the anti-nuclear crowd’s best efforts in recent decades, the U.S. is still, in fact, the global leader in nuclear technology and, with the right policies, could see a booming U.S. industry with global reach.

To capitalize on this opportunity, policymakers should focus on three things: fixing how we license new nuclear reactors, ensuring we get innovative designs to market and developing a robust domestic fuel supply chain.

Congress has been grappling with how best to modernize permitting and make the 1970s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) work for energy projects of the 2020s, streamlining litigation backlogs and providing pre-clearance for projects regulators know will have no environmental problems. These reforms are needed across the energy spectrum, including nuclear.

American entrepreneurs are also up to the challenge of meeting demand. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) anticipates at least 13 applications for advanced reactors by 2027. The projects in the pipeline today employ thousands of Americans, and these are just the tip of the spear.

Last year, Southern Nuclear loaded fuel in the first Westinghouse AP1000 reactor at the Vogtle site in Waynesboro, Georgia. When all units are operational, the entire Vogtle Plant will be the largest producer of clean energy in the U.S., powering more than one million homes and businesses and employing more than 800 highly paid professionals.

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America’s Global Energy and Climate Leadership Needs Carbon Capture (RealClearEnergy)

This op-ed was originally published by RealClearEnergy on December 3, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

The world is in the throes of a complex energy landscape as we recognize the unprecedented demand for affordable and reliable energy combined with our shared goal to decrease global carbon dioxide emissions. These twin realities create parallel challenges: producing more, while simultaneously deploying clean energy technologies that will reduce emissions.

The U.S. must lead in meeting both challenges. Domestic natural resources — oil, natural gas, coal and critical minerals – are prolific. Recent global instability has demonstrated just how crucial it is to decrease our dependence on hostile regimes like Russia, China and Iran. As the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, America’s seat at the table is clear.

Advancing U.S. leadership can’t stop with natural resources, we must also lead in low-carbon technologies. Financial incentives and policy support are accelerating the development of solutions like carbon capture and storage (CCS), which the International Energy Agency has said will be “necessary to meet national, regional and even corporate net-zero goals.”

The U.S. already has a competitive advantage with CCS. A recent report from the Global CCS Institute shows that the U.S. “dominates” the global CCS landscape with the U.S. facility count increasing by 73 in the past year alone. This is no surprise: the technology enjoys vast bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, environmentalists and industry alike, and is widely thought to be a crucial piece of the puzzle in decreasing emissions.

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Everyone’s talking climate. Let’s talk solutions (Washington Times)

This op-ed was originally published by The Washington Times on September 26, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

Farmers, ranchers, foresters and fishermen will all tell you the weather is different today from when they were younger, and their jobs have gotten harder.

Look, the climate is changing, and global industrial activity is contributing. We hear that from the oil and gas industry, power companies, and our friends in agriculture.

The challenge of global emissions is pretty well understood. But to complicate it, the U.S. will need to double our grid’s capacity by 2050. If the U.S. is going to do that, while ensuring the grid remains reliable and clean, and prices remain affordable, we’re talking about adding more than 20,000 clean energy projects to the grid over the next 27 years.

We cannot damage our economy in our efforts, especially during this time of high inflation and instability worldwide. We must pursue a market-driven agenda that makes clean energy more affordable rather than making existing energy sources more expensive or putting them off-limits. There are exciting solutions such as carbon capture technology, zero-emissions nuclear energy, and renewable sources like hydropower and geothermal that protect America’s workforce and, most importantly, make energy affordable, reliable, secure, and clean.

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Fixing a Broken Energy Permitting System (Washington Times)

This op-ed was originally published by The Washington Times on April 18, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

America’s energy demands are rapidly increasing. Some estimates say the U.S. will need to double the capacity of our grid by 2050 if there is any chance of meeting net-zero goals.

Financing and building enough clean energy infrastructure projects to keep up will not be easy. But under the current regulatory environment, it’s procedurally impossible. Delays that can last over a decade are making projects more expensive, impeding America’s ability to deploy billions of dollars of capital that would create American jobs, enhance U.S. energy security, and reduce emissions.

The current system benefits those who seek to delay as opposed to those who seek to build. That dynamic may have made sense four decades ago when policymakers enacted laws focused on stopping bad outcomes. Today, this system is outdated. The pace and scale necessary to build clean energy infrastructure projects to reliably meet our energy demand and lower emissions is not something the authors of the 1970s environmental laws could have imagined.

Fortunately, fixing this outdated, broken system is at the top of the agenda for Republicans and many Democratic policymakers this Congress. House Republicans have rightly put permitting reform front and center this year, passing with bipartisan support their signature energy package, the Lower Energy Costs Act, as H.R.1.

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Carbon Capture Permit Backlog Threatens Climate Progress (Real Clear Energy)

This op-ed was originally published by Real Clear Energy on March 21, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

America’s energy economy is at a reckoning point and we must not allow the vast domestic resources, nor the investments in new clean energy technologies, to be squandered.

The 2022 energy tax incentives, along with the bipartisan infrastructure law of 2021 and increasing private sector investments in innovation have the potential to catapult U.S. clean energy projects and firmly establish American global leadership in clean energy deployment.

It’s truly an unprecedented moment and one that the United States can’t afford to let pass by. But all of this potential will be little more than talking points if projects cannot be permitted in a timely manner. Nowhere is this more apparent than in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), which the International Energy Agency has said will be “necessary to meet national, regional and even corporate net zero goals.”

On the surface, moving more CCS projects has the support of both parties in Congress and the White House. President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan told energy executives at the CERAWeek conference in Houston that “carbon capture and storage is a priority for this Administration.”

That was music to the ears of many climate advocates, like myself, as well as the many energy project developers who are awaiting approvals for their CCS projects.

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America—and the World—Needs More Nuclear Power (Power Magazine)

This op-ed was originally published by Power Magazine on March 1, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

Nuclear energy is making a comeback—at home in America and worldwide. The 118th Congress presents new opportunities to make sure America leads the world on this crucial clean energy technology. The drumbeat for urgent climate action on the global stage is as loud as ever, but we’re also in the midst of a global energy crisis. Both themes exemplify the importance and necessity of new nuclear power on the grid.

Adding Advanced Nuclear Technology to the U.S. Power System

In the U.S., nuclear utilities are calling for 90 GW of new nuclear power by 2050, nearly doubling our nuclear energy capacity in the next 30 years—and American entrepreneurs are up to the challenge. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) anticipates at least 13 applications for advanced reactors by 2027, which puts a dent in the big goal.

The projects in the pipeline today employ thousands of Americans, and they are just the tip of the spear. If Republicans and Democrats in the new Congress are ready to double down on the immense nuclear support in the big energy bills enacted in the past four years—the Energy Act of 2020, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, and the recent tax package—a new generation of American advanced reactors will make immense contributions to global security, U.S. economic growth, and climate action.

The momentum so far has been awe-inspiring. Last year, Southern Nuclear loaded fuel in the first Westinghouse AP1000 reactor at the Vogtle site in Waynesboro, Georgia. When all units are operational, the entire Vogtle Plant will be the largest producer of clean energy in the U.S., powering more than one million homes and businesses, and employing more than 800 highly paid professionals.

GE Hitachi (GEH), meanwhile, is preparing to build its BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) in Clinch River, Tennessee, with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). GEH is hiring 400 employees in Wilmington, North Carolina, to support that project, a fuel facility in partnership with TerraPower, and the construction of its SMR at the Darlington site in Canada, which is on track to operate by 2028.

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Biden missed a groundbreaking opportunity to level with Americans about climate policy (MarketWatch)

This op-ed was originally published by MarketWatch on February 8, 2023. Click here to read the entire piece.

President Joe Biden missed a critical opportunity during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. In touting the bipartisan infrastructure law, he directed a comment towards Republicans – “I’ll see you at the groundbreaking.”

In reality, breaking ground on anything will need a permit, and we unfortunately did not hear a plan to fix the permitting crisis. Reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. to net zero is actually achievable.

Done right, we could improve American energy security and be even more competitive in the global energy market. Europe is scrambling to keep pace with America’s new clean energy incentives. Parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East have no electricity today while others are growing so fast they will need orders of magnitude more power. These are big challenges, but there is a political path forward to make more energy for the world, and make it cleaner. To have a chance at success, the U.S. must change how it permits the construction of clean energy projects.

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Conservatives Are Cutting A Clear Path To Solving Climate Change. Here’s How (Daily Caller)

This op-ed was originally published by The Daily Caller on December 9, 2022. Click here to read the entire piece.

Congressional leadership transitions bring forth new committee assignments, new priorities and a new energy policy vision. While some suggest a new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will work to undo recent efforts on addressing climate change, we disagree with that premise.

Look, economic inflation, high gas and electricity prices, unrest in Eastern Europe, increasing global carbon dioxide emissions and global supply chain chaos are all realities. Combined, there is an ongoing global energy crisis.

But how to solve this crisis has created false choices in Washington. Debates on renewables versus fossils, economy versus environment, or 100% global emissions reduction versus inaction in the U.S. are clouding the path forward on the global challenge.

The truth is, no nation, government or business will achieve climate goals and see economic success unless we eliminate those false choices and leverage all energy resources on the table.

We need to focus on policies that make new and emerging clean energy technologies more affordable, not policies that make existing energy more expensive and harder to produce.

Democrats have historically proposed top-down climate policies like mandates, heavy regulations, or new taxes. Yet global emissions, the only real measure of success or failure in solving climate change, continue to increase...

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Welcoming the largest generator of clean power in the US (The Hill)

This op-ed was originally published by The Hill on October 20, 2022. Click here to read the entire piece.

Nuclear reactors are America’s clean energy battleships. They make up the majority of our zero-carbon power, and we are at a crossroads. Our nuclear energy muscles were beginning to atrophy, but the technology is making a roaring comeback.

The existing fleet of reactors started to shrink from 104 reactors as of 2012 to 92 today. The huge reactors we are used to seeing were initially licensed for 40 years starting in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Utilities and lawmakers around the country have been forced to decide to relicense or let them retire.

We have lost some of the biggest — in 2013, California shut down the remaining San Onofre reactors. In 2018, New Jersey shut down the Oyster Creek reactor. In 2021, Indian Point shut down in New York. There have been others, and as a result, America lost about 7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity.

We’ve still maintained nuclear energy leader status, but other countries are on our heels. Of the 56 nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, only two are in the U.S., while China is building 18 units, India eight, along with Turkey and Russia at four each.

It’s been a real challenge that the U.S. hasn’t shown the world a new reactor. The Russian and Chinese designs have gotten ahead of us.

The two units in America have been in limbo since 2008, when Southern Nuclear formally applied for a license for two additional units at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. In 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved the license for the two AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse. But that’s also when things got tough.

In 2011, the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan triggered a tsunami that hit the coast of Japan causing the shutdown and major damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. While the accident wasn’t directly related to Plant Vogtle, global sentiment for nuclear power took a negative turn.

In 2017, construction and other challenges from Vogtle being the first new nuclear reactor under construction in the United States in decades caused Westinghouse to declare bankruptcy, casting doubt on the ability to complete the build out.

More recently, global supply chains ran into a wall in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, causing additional cost hikes and delays to everything.

Through this adversity, America’s nuclear energy leadership is coming back. Southern Nuclear started to load nuclear fuel at Vogtle Unit 3 on Oct. 14 ...

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How the U.S. Can Beat China and Russia in New Energy Tech (Bloomberg Law)

This op-ed was originally published by Bloomberg Law on September 26, 2022. Click here to read the entire piece.

Paul Dabbar, former under secretary for Science and Energy, and Rich Powell, CEO of ClearPath, say the agency needs more leaders with deep industry experience and knowledge of commercial projects if the US is to stay ahead of China and Russia in new energy innovation.

America’s energy innovation engine has been a well-oiled machine for nearly 50 years. We’re on the verge of building what could be the greatest energy technologies we’ve ever seen, but you know the saying—it’s hard to find good help.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funded demonstration projects authorized in the Energy Act signed by President Donald Trump in 2020. It was the biggest US Department of Energy project since the Manhattan project.

The IIJA included $27 billion for grid infrastructure and $21.5 billion for a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED). If done right, this investment may be our key to beating China and Russia in the race for next-generation energy technologies.

Staffing Needs
Historically, DOE has been a giant nuclear defense and science R&D agency. It has focused on building and maintaining nuclear weapons, power plants for subs and carriers, not to mention the Human Genome Project, giant particle colliders, and other world-altering innovations like quantum computing. It owns and operates the 17 National Laboratories, building and running cutting-edge science infrastructure.

The Department, however, has little experience with specific ready-for-first-deployment commercial energy technology. In an August report, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General raised similar concerns outlining risk areas such as insufficient staffing, circumvention of project controls, insufficient project oversight, and inadequate internal and recipient-level controls DOE’s team has brilliant minds and policy expertise.

But even in the applied offices, they are staffed with early-stage technology R&D funding experts, not people with experience building commercial-scale energy facilities.

The agency’s Loan Programs Office, created in 2005 to bridge new technologies with available capital, has had some incredible wins—including Tesla—but also some high-profile losses. Some projects failed simply because the right people weren’t in place to assist with the selection process. The current office has brought in leaders with deep industry experience to fill gaps and get things done.

Policy Needs
Congressional oversight to ensure these programs succeed is obvious, but there are three internal policy changes DOE could implement.

First, DOE needs to immediately hire both political and career employees with experience delivering power plants and other energy facilities on time and on budget.

That means senior energy engineers, private sector technology investment leaders, former employees of large utilities or equipment manufacturers, plant developers, corporate capital allocators, and fund investors who have depth in building commercial projects.

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