Nuclear Energy Policy [March 12, 2002]   [open pdf - 97KB]

"Nuclear energy policy issues facing Congress include questions about radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, power plant safety and regulation, terrorism, the Price-Anderson Act accident liability system, nuclear weapons proliferation, and technology for producing nuclear fuel. Federal funding for nuclear energy research and development was substantially reduced by the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration proposed further cuts. However, in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations for FY2002 (P.L. 107- 66), Congress generally rejected those reductions. President Bush's FY2003 budget request includes $38.5 million for a Department of Energy (DOE) effort to encourage deployment of new commercial nuclear power plants by 2010. […] Whether progress on nuclear waste disposal and other congressional action will revive the U.S. nuclear power industry's growth will depend primarily on economic considerations. Natural gas- and coal-fired powerplants currently are favored over nuclear reactors for new generating capacity. However, rising energy prices and electricity shortages have led some utilities to consider building new reactors. Concern about the spread, or proliferation, of nuclear weapons throughout the world has risen sharply since longtime rivals India and Pakistan conducted competing nuclear weapons tests in May 1998. Recent heightened tensions in Southeast Asia have focused attention on the effectiveness of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. In addition, the September 11 attacks have raised new concerns about the potential for terrorists to detonate nuclear explosives or radioactive 'dirty bombs.'"

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CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB88090
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