Under the recently proposed “Green New Deal,” civil nuclear power plants may be closed in ten years. That is, if alternative energy sources can close the gap and replace the approximately one-fifth of the nation’s power they now generate. The Green New Deal is a set of proposed economic policy changes geared toward drastically reducing the amount of greenhouse gases the U.S. emits every year. It was recently presented by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey, who are hoping to achieve a nationwide “net-zero” emission level by beefing up research and development into renewable energy sources, according to a report from CNBC.
“The Green New Deal doesn’t belong to me. The Green New Deal belongs to indigenous communities, it belongs to the residents of Flint, it belongs to Puerto Rico, it belongs to the victims of wildfires,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on twitter.
‘You say you love your children, but you are destroying our future.’
Our sea levels are rising.
Droughts are worsening.
Wildfires are spreading.
Storms are coming.
There’s precious little time left.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 16, 2019
One component of the Green New Deal is the eventual elimination of all civil nuclear power plants in the next decade. If the resolution becomes law, no new nuclear power plants may be constructed, and existing nuclear power plants will have ten years to decommission. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the country has “60 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 98 nuclear reactors in 30 U.S. states.” The military would also be impacted, as the proposal calls for a cut of $500 billion per year in “federal spending on the military (including the Pentagon budget as well as expenditures on war, nuclear weapons and other military-related areas).”
However, it is unclear if any cuts will be made to the U.S.Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, which is vital to the fleets. U.S. submarines and aircraft carriers rely on nuclear reactors for propulsion, and any cut to these programs could be detrimental to force readiness. This uncertainty has not changed the way senior military leaders are approaching the potential problem. According to Power Engineering, the U.S. Navy recently inked a $2.1 billion deal with BWX Technologies, Inc. for nuclear fuel and support. That’s a pretty clear indication that nuclear power is here to stay in the U.S. Navy.
“We are exceedingly pleased to continue supporting the Navy’s shipbuilding plans,” said Rex D. Geveden, president and CEO of BWX Technologies. “This work is the centerpiece of our nuclear national security portfolio and reflects our position as a trusted supplier for these critical systems.”