With the administration and Democratic lawmakers in Congress pushing to enact greenhouse-gas (GHG) regulation, nuclear power has taken center stage as both a clean technology solution and a political bargaining chip. Consequently, the industry’s hopes for new construction projects have brightened considerably. Whether this policy momentum can usher in a sustainable nuclear renaissance, however, remains questionable at best.
In June 2008, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, it effectively sent a shot across the bow of lawmakers who oppose GHG regulation. Waxman-Markey would establish a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions allowances, and would create a federal renewable energy standard (RES).