Nuclear energy is the cleanest and most efficient form of energy production, but many on the left — including those obsessed with climate change — remain staunchly opposed to its expansion.
President Donald Trump’s administration understands the value of nuclear energy, however, and is seeking to reverse an Obama-era ban that forbade federal funding of civil nuclear energy projects in foreign nations, the Washington Examiner reported.
Policy reversal proposed
The proposal to reverse course was put forward by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), which will now allow for 30 days of public comment on the policy change before moving forward.
“Access to affordable and reliable power is essential for developing countries to advance their economies,” a spokeswoman for the IDFC, Laura Allen, told the Examiner. “This change would bring advances in technology and offer a zero-emission power source to the developing world while serving as an alternative to the predatory financing of authoritarian regimes.”
Under the prior administration’s policy, which favored far less efficient forms of “renewable” energy production like solar and wind, developing nations that wanted to tap into the awesome power of civil nuclear energy production had to turn to places such as China and Russia for assistance.
Taking the lead on nuclear energy
Congress, perhaps cognizant of the problems inherent in that arrangement, passed legislation in 2018 that helped create the IDFC, which was meant to counter the influence China and Russia were gaining by encouraging more U.S. investment and support for developing nations around the world, according to The Hill.
One lawmaker likely thrilled at this turn of events is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Energy Committee, who along with ranking member Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has long been warning that the prior policy had effectively ceded U.S. primacy in the realm of nuclear energy to those authoritarian rivals.
“Nuclear energy technology can help meet the world’s clean energy needs,” Murkowski said in a statement to the Examiner. “Our energy future is global, and steps like this DFC decision are crucial to meeting climate and energy leadership goals. Lifting this prohibition will simultaneously strengthen the U.S. economy while boosting international relations and global energy security.”
Action, at long last
Interestingly, the administration signaled this move a little more than a month ago, the Examiner reported separately, with the release of a sort of “roadmap” for how the U.S. could revive and strengthen the nuclear power industry both at home and abroad.
While much of that plan appeared focused on bolstering U.S. production of uranium, it also expressed support for the continued development of smaller and more advanced and affordable nuclear power plants, which would be ideal for developing nations. It also called for a review intended “fix legacy policies that disallow support for nuclear projects,” such as the Obama-era ban.
The Trump administration has reportedly been quietly pushing for this policy change for some time, but the IDFC had been reluctant to move forward on that front. An unnamed former administration official told the Examiner of the delay:
How a team that professes energy dominance and nuclear energy revival could have taken this long to enact such a simple, no-brainer policy update truly boggles the mind.
Any clear-eyed view of the future must acknowledge that civil nuclear energy is the way to go, and if the U.S. isn’t leading on the global stage, China and Russia will. This overdue policy change is certainly the right move.