Bill Gates: “I can't overstate how important this is.”

Written by Adam English
Posted April 2, 2019

Publisher's Note: An earlier version of this article implied that the Union of Concern Scientists supports the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act. It does not and we are sorry for the error.

What could Bill Gates, many environmentalists, and President Trump all agree on?

What kind of legislation could nine Republican senators and six Democratic senators all introduce together?

In short, one of the most important requirements for reducing carbon emissions, bolstering national security, and ensuring critical U.S. technical superiority.

Nuclear energy is that important to our future. It's about to get the boost it deserves.

If you're thinking of the anachronistic power plants we're still running from nearly 50 years ago, think again. What is coming soon is like nothing we've ever seen.

What's In the Bill?

On March 27, the senators reintroduced the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) with a wide range of goals.

The overall goal is to “reestablish U.S. leadership in nuclear energy” which we've since ceded to Russia and China.

As for specifics, there is some good, but dry, stuff in here:

  • It aims to define and establish a domestic market for advanced nuclear reactors by extending federal power purchase agreements from 10 years to 40 years.
  • It will encourage much greater collaboration between the federal government, national laboratories, and private industry.
  • A provision directs the Dept. of Energy to establish specific goals and ultimately demonstrate advanced reactors built in partnership with the private sector.
  • The legislation pushes the DoE to develop a 10-year strategic plan, which somehow doesn't exist.

It also seeks to specifically boost development of fast neutron reactors and rapid advancements in high-assay low-enriched uranium fuels.

Fast neutron reactors can extract 60 times more energy compared to existing thermal reactors and create significantly less radioactive waste.

As for high-assay low-enriched uranium fuels, they'll be needed in the next generation of reactors that have already been designed and are being planned. This would guarantee a domestic source for the fuels.

But Why?

I know a lot of people see nuclear energy as an unsafe, anachronistic byproduct of the Cold War. There may be some people "hate reading" this article.

If so, you're disturbingly and dangerously ignorant. Hate to say it, but it's true.

Don't want to hear it from me? How about a look at the numbers?

Moving the 20% of domestic energy produced by nuclear plants today into coal or natural gas would drive up carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels almost 29% from 1,900 million tons to 2,447 million tons.

Don't care for the lab coat-wearing ivory tower types and more of a businessman type? How about Bill Gates, who put this out on Twitter about the reintroduced bill:

"To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to reach near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings—by investing in innovation across all sectors while deploying low cost renewables. Nuclear energy is one of these critical technologies. It's ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that's available 24 hours a day."

Don't care for the environmental angle? How about national security then?

In June 2018, President Trump ordered DoE Secretary Rick Perry to identify “Critical Defense Facilities” served by “Defense Critical Electric Infrastructure (DCEI)” as a matter of national security.

The DoE itself warns of a “tipping point” in the loss of “fuel-secure” power generation:

“Without a strong domestic nuclear power industry, the U.S. will not only lose the energy security and grid resilience benefits but will also lose its workforce technical expertise, supply chain and position of clean energy leadership.”

The fact of the matter is that nuclear power is a critical component for our future and everyone — environmentalists, scientists, businessmen, and politicians on both sides of the aisle — agrees on it.

This bill will get pushed hard and should get through without a problem. And it is clear that President Trump will gladly sign it into law.

Bill Gates put it perfectly, “I can't overstate how important this is.”

Take care,

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Adam English

follow basic @AdamEnglishOC on Twitter

Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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