Last updated on: 3/20/2024 | Author: ProCon.org

Should the U.S. Continue to Use Nuclear Energy?

Whether alternative energy can meet energy demands effectively enough to phase out finite fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) is hotly debated. Alternative energies include renewable sources–including solar, tidal, wind, biofuel, hydroelectric, and geothermal–and non-renewable nuclear power. For more on alternative energy, including nuclear, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)

Pro

Joe Biden:

“The United States has set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, which can be achieved through multiple cost-effective pathways each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. That means good-paying jobs deploying carbon pollution-free electricity generating resources, transmission, and energy storage and leveraging the carbon pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture and existing nuclear, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.”

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White House, “FACT SHEET: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies,” whitehouse.gov, Apr. 22, 2021

Pro

Donald Trump:

“Nuclear energy is critical to United States national security. That is why I have taken a series of actions to promote its development and facilitate its use. On June 29, 2017, I announced an initiative to revive and expand the nuclear energy sector and directed a complete review of United States nuclear energy policy to help find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource. On July 12, 2019, I signed a Presidential Memorandum entitled “The Effect of Uranium Imports on the National Security and Establishment of the United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group,” with the goal of examining the current state of domestic nuclear fuel production and reinvigorating the nuclear fuel supply chain, consistent with United States national security and nonproliferation goals. On August 20, 2019, I signed National Security Presidential Memorandum-20, entitled “Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems,” calling for development and use of space nuclear systems to enable or enhance space exploration and operational capabilities.”

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Trump White House Archives, “Executive Order on Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration,” trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov, Jan. 12, 2021

CON (no)

Not Clear or Not Found

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

“What I’ve always said is that a nuclear power… don’t offer nuclear power [unless] you can make it safe and you can make it economical and right now it is so far from being either. And it’s not me saying it’s unsafe. It’s the insurance industry. The insurance industry regards this, nuclear power, as so unsafe that they will not give an insurance policy. And, you know, we’ve seen… the record is horrific, you know, what’s happened at Fukushima where they’re… there’s probably a square mile of these tanks that they put water in every day because it’s contaminated water they’re trying to keep it out of the Pacific. But there’s no way to ever stop it, so they’re building these huge huge tanks… and you can look on the Internet, they go all the way to the horizon. You know we’ve watched what happened in Chernobyl… but putting aside past performance in this industry, which has been cataclysmic… If they suddenly get a technology that makes them safe and get an insurance policy so that we don’t have to worry about it right now.”

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Tom Crown, “Live Discussion Robert F. Kennedy Jr & Elon Musk: Presidential Candidate,” youtube.com, June 5, 2023