White House Summit on Nuclear Energy


Jason Walsh: Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming
from near and far away. My name is Jason Walsh. I’m a senior policy advisor
here at the White House. We are very excited to be
hosting the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy
and to be joined by such an impressive audience and such
a great group of speakers. You should all have an
agenda or be sitting next to someone who has an agenda,
or seen an agenda at some point in the last
couple of hours. You’ll see that we have
three panels of speakers this afternoon who will
discuss the importance of nuclear power across
multiple vectors and actions being taken today and into
the future to sustain and advance nuclear power. We will also hear from a
number of young scientists and engineers who we think
are representative of the next generation, the new
generation entering the field of nuclear energy
moving it forward. And as book ends to this
afternoon you’ll hear from two administration leaders,
Dr. John Holdren and Dr. Liz Sherwood Randall. For the panels you’ll hear
remarks from our moderators and speakers and questions
from moderators to speakers. We’ll also have about 10
minutes at the end of each panel for questions
from the audience. The way that we’re going
to do this is that at some point over the
course of the panel, probably after remarks,
the moderator will say, “If you have a question
raise your hand.” And then we’ll have a couple
of folks passing out cards. You’ll write down your
question and then you’ll pass the note back to the
person you got the card from and we will somehow try to
make sense of all of that. I want to — I want to
give thanks to a couple of organizations. There were a number of
organizations who helped us put this together. I want to single
out a couple. First, to Third Way for
being really invaluable partners in helping us think
through this event and also designed the agenda, the
third panel of which John Cowan, President of Third
Way will be moderating at the end. I also want to thank
Idaho National Laboratory. Those of you who come to
White House events know that our typical practice is
to make you as thirsty and hungry and physically
uncomfortable as possible. They’ll still be some
of that, don’t worry. But at the break we will
have coffee and some refreshments courtesy of INL
so I want to thank them for that. And then incidentally, all
of their groundbreaking RD&D over multiple generations in
nuclear energy technology. Some housekeeping notes. Please turn off the ringers
of your various devices. As I reference, there
will be a break. It will be after
our second panel. There are also, for
folks who don’t know, bathrooms as you go out. They’ll be to your left. Men’s is, I think is
on the first floor, women’s is on
the second floor. This summit is being live
streamed so don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t
want to have end up in the national archives. And I think that’s it. We’re really excited that
you’re all here and that we’re doing this summit. On that note, it is my great
pleasure to introduce Dr. John Holdren who is
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology,
Director of the White House Office of Science and
Technology Policy and co-chair of the President’s
Council of Advisors on Science and Technology,
otherwise known is PCAST. Dr. Holdren holds advanced
degrees in aerospace engineering and theoretical
plasma physics from MIT and Stanford. He is a member of the
National Academy of Sciences, the National
Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences as well as the former President of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. In short, he is
an underachiever. Dr. Holdren, will you
come on up please? Thank you. (applause) John Holdren: Well thank you very much, Jason and on behalf
of President Obama, thanks to all of
you for coming. This is an amazing crowd. I have been entertaining
myself by reading the list of participants and your
affiliations and I have to extend a particular note
of thanks to Kirsten Cutler from OSTP for all the work
she put in in organizing this meeting and helping
us recruit such an amazing collection of leaders
in this field. As everybody is aware,
President Obama considers addressing the global
climate change challenge to be a top priority. At the end of August at
the Glacier Conference in Alaska, he said
the following; “I am convinced that no
challenge poses a greater threat to our future and
future generations than a change in climate. This is one of those rare
issues because of its magnitude, because of its
scope that if we don’t get it right we may not be able
to reverse and we may not be able to adapt sufficiently. There is such a thing as
being too late when it comes to climate change.” The challenge of acting in
time and ultimately acting adequately is daunting both
for the United States and for the world. Let me take a look at the
numbers — most of the world’s nations have
embraced the goal of holding the increase in the globally
and annually averaged near surface air temperature to
two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Today we’re
pushing through . 9 degrees Celsius
and still rising. The middle of the road
estimate by the climate science community are that
achieving high likelihood of keeping the ultimate
increase below two degrees C will require global
reductions in the offending emissions. Principally, greenhouse
gases but also particulate black carbon by something
in the range of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050
and all the way to zero by or before 2100. Under the widely shared
assumption that the industrialized countries
having contributed the larger part of cumulative
atmospheric build up of greenhouse gases to
date should go first and initially fastest in
emissions reductions. The United States and many
other industrial nations have agreed to aim for
something like 80 percent reductions from 1990 levels
by 2050 — 80 percent. Now in terms of heat
trapping potential on a 100 year time scale, carbon
dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use have lately
accounted for about 55 percent of total greenhouse
gas emissions world wide and carbon dioxide emissions
from electric power plants have accounted for about
40 percent of that or 22 percent of the global total. In the United States, CO2
emissions from fossil fuel are about three quarters
of national green house gas emissions with electric
power generation accounting as it does worldwide for
about 40 percent of the CO2 emissions from fossil
fuel use in total. Thus in this country, CO2
from power generation is 30 percent of national
emissions of all greenhouse gases, all types. Both for the United
States and for the world, the electric power sector
is the biggest emitter of greenhouse cases among all
sectors of human activity. It’s bigger than
transportation, it’s bigger than
agriculture, it’s bigger than
non-electric uses of energy in industry and it’s bigger
than non-electric uses of energy in residential
and commercial buildings. That means that national and
global goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions can
only be met with the help of significant emissions
reductions in the electric power sector. Indeed, probably larger than
proportionate cuts given the leverage that comes from
the degree to which both emissions and decisions in
this sector are concentrated in large facilities and
large organizations. But achieving reductions in
the magnitude required is going to be a
huge challenge. Both in the United
States and worldwide, two thirds of electricity
generation still comes from burning coal, oil,
and natural gas. And virtually all of that
without a capture of the carbon dioxide
combustion product. Two billion tons of CO2 per
year from fossil fuel power plants in the United States,
13 billion tons worldwide. I might add that over 70
percent of that global power sector total is coming from
coal-fired power plants, more than 70 percent. Of the one third of global
electricity generation currently coming from
non-fossil sources, about half is coming
from hydropower, a third is coming
from nuclear, and a sixth is coming
from non-hydro renewables. In the United States,
in round numbers, 60 percent of the non-fossil
generation is nuclear, 20 percent is hydro and
the last 20 percent is the non-hydro renewables. But nuclear generation, as
everyone in this room knows I think has been more or
less flat in gigawatt hours generated for a decade and
hydro for far longer than that fluctuating mainly
with differences in runoff. Only the non-hydro
renewables have been growing recently and very
dramatically at that. In the case of wind,
it increased more than three-fold between
2008 and 2014. Solar electricity generation
increased more than 20-fold between 2008 and 2014. The most conspicuous
greenhouse gas relevant trend on the fossil
generation side in the United States has of course
been the rising prominence of natural gas which
went from 16 percent of generation in 2000 to 27
percent in 2014 which coal fell from 52 percent in
2000 to 39 percent in 2014. So, looking ahead, what are
the options for achieving the deep cuts in greenhouse
gas emissions from the power sector that are needed? I’m sure everybody in this
room could recite the list. It’s not that long. Increased efficiency
in electricity end use, more switching from
coal to natural gas, advanced fossil fuel
power plants with higher efficiency and much
more important, but also more
difficult and costly, the capacity to
capture, use, and store carbon dioxide. More renewables for
electricity generation particularly some of the
non-hydro renewables — notably wind and solar, that
have large potential for further expansion. More nuclear fission
and ultimately, maybe nuclear fusion if it
can be made practical and affordable. All of these options
have attractions. All of them have
shortcomings, including for some hurdles
to be overcome in terms of practicality, economics, or
public acceptance with the prospects for overcoming
these hurdles subject to considerable uncertainty. Increased end use efficiency
is at least arguably the largest and cheapest option. After all, from 1975-2010,
the United States reduced the amount of primary energy
needed to yield a real dollar of GDP by a factor of
two at modest and sometimes negative cost. Every respectable study
shows that there is much more potential where
that came from. But still, efficiency
has limits. One still needs supply, and
in the case of electricity there’s reason to think that
demand will be driven up by such rapidly expanding
end uses as the increasing electrification of
transportation and perhaps desalination of seawater. As for the supply side,
again I think we all pretty much know where
the challenges lie. Burning natural gas still
releases a lot of CO2, although much
less than coal, and careful attention has to
be paid to methane leaks in production and transport to
avoid offsetting even that advantage. Carbon capture utilization
and storage for fossil fuel power plants is still at an
early stage of development, with costs that are
highly uncertain, but in no event likely to be
attractive unless there was a substantial actual or
virtual price on carbon. Intermittent renewables such
a wind and solar become more challenging with respect
to integration with other sources the larger
their share becomes, and their cost goes
up substantially in circumstances where
storage is required. Growing biofuels for
electricity generation is demanding of land and water
and may compete with food production, as well as
entailing high costs in transporting the fuel to
centralized power plants. Nuclear fusion, of course,
doesn’t work yet and we can’t be sure it will or
what it will cost if it does. And as for nuclear fission,
the focus of this meeting, I’ll come to it’s challenges
in just a moment — but the point I want to make first
is this litany of challenge — litany of challenges
facing our options for reducing greenhouse gas
emissions from the power sector is not a reason for
taking any of them off the table. Given the importance,
indeed the imperative of electricity supply that
is adequate, affordable, reliable, secure, and far
more climate friendly than today’s, the only sensible
strategy is to do everything we reasonably can do through
research, development, innovation, and
public-private partnership to master the challenges
that each option presents. TO give the best change
of being able to fashion a deployed mix of electricity
supply options that meets all of these criteria
and one other. A high degree of portfolio
diversity as a hedge against inevitable uncertainty
and surprises. And that precisely is this
administration’s strategy. Let me turn finally to
the challenges facing the nuclear fission option. The challenges that we
must count on research, development, innovation, and
public-private partnerships to address. And again, I think we
all know what they are. They are to reduce
capital cost, to maximize safety against
malfunction, mistakes, malevolence, and
natural disasters, to manage radioactive wastes
in ways that are not merely technically sound but that
can gain the confidence of the public, and to minimize
the pathways by which nuclear energy technology
could contribute to the proliferation of
nuclear weapons. What today’s meeting is
precisely about is how ingenuity and innovation and
partnership can contribute to overcoming these
challenges and thus to making nuclear energy
everything that it can be and thus a major contributor
in this country and worldwide to minimizing the
risks from climate change. I look forward to hearing
the terrific ideas I’m sure will materialize
from this discussion. Thank you very much. (applause) Jason Walsh: Thank
you, Dr. Holdren. On our first panel we will
hear from some — several very informed speakers about
the importance of nuclear power domestically and
internationally to meeting our climate mitigation
goals as Dr. Holdren just referenced, mitigating
climate change is one of the President’s top priorities
which he is demonstrating on a day to day basis,
including today. I will briefly note our two
most significant domestic and international
climate initiatives, both of which you’ll
hear more about from our speakers. Domestically, of course, the
Clean Power Plan released earlier this year includes
the first every national standards to limit carbon
pollution from power plants, existing power plants,
as I’m sure you all know, are the largest source of
carbon pollution in the U.S. and yet until the clean
power plan there were no national limits on the
amount of carbon pollution they could emit. That wasn’t smart
and it wasn’t safe. The Clean Power Plan builds
on progress that states and companies are already making
towards a clean future. It sets long term
market signals, which will drive innovation
and investments in low carbon energy and
energy efficiency. And since we
finalized the rule, we’ve seen concrete progress
from states and utilities who think the CPP is
practical, not partisan, and who are coming to the
table to develop state plans tailored to their
own economies, and their own energy mixes. Nuclear power is of course
the largest source of zero carbon electric power
in the United States. By putting limits on carbon
pollution from fossil fuel fired power
plants in the CPP, we are helping to make
sure that the cost of that pollution and the value of
zero emitting sources like nuclear will be
taken into account. I’m not going to say anymore
about the Clean Power Plan because Janet McCabe who
knows just a little bit about the subject will
make that the focus of her remarks. Internationally you all know
that we are just a few weeks away from the Paris
Climate Conference. You also know I think that
electricity demand is on track to double globally
by 2050 and that by some estimates nuclear energy
generation must increase by an amount equivalent to
roughly doubling the current number of nuclear plants in
operation if warming is to be limited to two
degrees Celsius. As we approach Paris,
more than 150 countries, representing nearly 90
percent of global emissions have committed to
2025 or 2030 targets. We believe securing an
ambitious and durable agreement in
Paris is in reach. Nuclear power will be
one among many technology pathways to fulfilling
country commitments, but we think it will be
one of the most important. Paul Bodnar, whose every
waking hour is consumed by the Paris conference, will
be able to tell us more about that. I’m going to stop there and
introduce our panelists and ask them to come
up one at a time, and then when they’re
finished with their remarks sit next to me and then when
we’re done with that we will — we will have a little
time for conversation. So, our panelists
are Janet McCabe, who’s the acting assistant
administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation
at the U.S. EPA, David Christian, CEO of
Dominion Generation Group, Ken Caldeira, a climate
scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Science and
the Department of Global Ecology at Stanford
University, William D. Magwood IV, Director General
of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, and finally,
Paul Bodnar, who’s the senior director
for energy and climate change at the White House
National Security Council. Janet, can I ask you to
come to the stage, please? Janet McCabe: Thanks, Jason,
and thanks to everybody for being here and thanks
for including EPA. I don’t know quite why we
got the honor of lead off hitter today,
but I’ll take it. I think it’s wonderful that
the White House has gathered you all together and is
putting on this event as Jason said, and as
Administrator McCarthy would certainly echo if she were
here and not on her way back from Dubai at another
important climate event — the EPA is very much
behind President Obama’s all-of-the-above
energy strategy. We are not an energy agency
and we don’t try to be an energy agency. We’re an environmental
and public health agency, and our job is to implement
in my case the Clean Air Act in order to put in place
sensible policies that comport with the Clean Air
Act and reduce emissions of pollutants that have found
to cause harm to the public health and the environment
— carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been
so found by EPA and that’s been confirmed by the vast
majority of scientists working on these issues, and
also by the Supreme Court. So, science or lawyers
— take your pick. They agree on that. As Jason mentioned, this
summer the administrator and the President announced a
really historic regulatory program, the
Clean Power Plan. It has been in the
works for several years. My guess is that many people
in this room are pretty familiar with the Clean
Power Plan and perhaps even filed comments on — how
many people filed comments on the Clean Power
Plan in this room? So that’s a pretty good —
thank you very much for all of you. You are a small portion
of the 4.3 million people across the country. We didn’t have a room big
enough at the White House for all those people,
but I’d love to get them together some time. That would be really fun. The volume of those comments
suggests a couple things, that I think are
pretty clear. One is just the immense
importance of this issue and how much people care about
it, but also the complexity of it and the views that
people wanted to get in front of us. Indeed, some of the comments
that we got were longer in number of pages than
the proposal itself, which was not a slim
volume, I can assure you. So, lots to look at, and
certainly input from and about nuclear power was
very, very prominent. This of course is
not an energy rule; it is a rule about
fossil-fired power plants. That’s our authority under
section 111d of the Clean Air Act. But as Jason noted, and
as Dr. Holdren noted, this is all a big system. And so the requirements that
our rule places on coal and gas-fired plants certainly
fits into and indeed is designed to fit into as we
laid out in the rule how the energy system works. So I’m getting
carried away here, and I’m going to run out of
time so I’m going to stop diverging from my carefully
planned, written remarks. When the plan is in place,
fully compliant in 2030, carbon pollution will go
down 32 percent compared to 2005 levels. That’s significant — a
significant co-benefit is great decreases in other air
pollutants that come along with fossil generation, SO2,
and nox and that’s good. We expect that coal and
natural gas will continue to be leading sources of power
generation in the country but we expect nuclear
power to hold steady, or perhaps grow. It is at about 20 percent
now and that’s what our analysis showed. I want to focus the rest of
my very few minutes on how nuclear power is generated. Am I out already? Oh dear. Let me just wrap up then. Jason Walsh: Take one
or two more minutes. Janet McCabe:
Thank you, Jason. That nuclear power is
treated in the clean power plan like any other zero
carbon power source. That — if anything that’s
the most important thing to take away from this. The Clean Power Plan is
based on the fact that we have an integrated system
where lots of different sources of energy contribute
to the electrons that light up our houses, and whether
it’s wind energy or solar energy or nuclear energy
or hydro power or energy efficiency, all of those
things can play into these plans that Jason referred
to the states are putting together. We have a system allowed
under the plan of very flexible states designing
their own plans to accommodate their
own energy mixes, but we also recognize that
power travels around and between and among states and
so the system is intended to allow those kinds of
compliance plans where states can set up and
utilities can set up trading programs and credit
generation programs so that clean energy can create
value for itself and replace the carbon intensive fuels. So, that is the most
important thing for you to take away. It is not within our power
in this rule to drive a place for any one particular
kind of energy generation, but we do — we did want to
make sure that the nuclear energy just like other zero
carbon had the ability to compete. And states have the ability
to design their plans in ways that can encourage
different kinds of energy. And if nuclear power’s a
significant part of their own energy mix, then the
Clean Power Plan allows them the flexibility to do that. We did bring — I brought
a fact sheet that we put together just recently in
honor of this event that I hope will be useful broadly
on nuclear power and the Clean Power Plan. Please get a copy on your
way out and it will be on our — on our website. It makes clear that whether
states choose to go through a mass-based approach or
a rate-based approach, nuclear power has a
place in those plans. The last thing
that I want to say, and then I really will stop,
is that I want to encourage all of you to be in
touch with your states. They are now, as Jason said,
they are starting work on what their plans are
going to look like, and one thing we put in the
plan was a clear direction to the states to have very
robust public engagement processes with the
stakeholders in their states. So whatever stakeholder
constituency you represent, you should be talking to
your state environmental and energy agencies and make
sure you know what process they’re going to run in
order to get appropriate feedback as they
design those plans. So, again, thank
you very much. Sorry to take more time than
I was allowed and I look forward to the
rest of the panel. (applause) David Christian: Good
afternoon and thank you, Jason, and thank you
Janet for those comments. I am honored to be here
today and thankful of the privilege and the
opportunity to participate in this discussion. For you to know how
personally gratifying it is for me I must tell you this
— that 40 years ago as an engineering student at
Virginia Tech I became familiar with a theory then
known as the Greenhouse Effect and after studying
the impact of various technologies for producing
electricity and the impact that would have on the
planet I drew on all the faculties available to a
20-year-old and selected nuclear energy as
a career field. I thought the country was
going to need it and I thought the planet
was going to need it. So here we are, 40 years
later witness to the fact that there has been a
penetration of the American consciousness, indeed
the global consciousness, that nuclear power can and
will play a meaningful role in mitigating the potential
impacts of climate change. As Janet said, nuclear
power provides carbon free, low cost, around the clock
energy for our customers. She didn’t say
our customers, but I’m saying
our customers. And it provides high paying
jobs for our employees, and significant economic benefits to our host communities. Dominion has four operating
reactors in Virginia and two in Connecticut, providing
some 40 percent of Virginia’s electricity and
50 percent of Connecticut’s electricity. Our customers reap the
benefits of nuclear power, as it is the key reason that
our rates are well below the national averages. Just as important, nuclear
energy is the primary reason that Dominion ranks among
the least carbon-intensive major electric utility
generator in the U.S. and we intend to
keep it that way. This morning we transmitted
a letter of intent to the U.S. NRC to submit for a second
license renewal application at our Surry plant. The two reactors at Surry
have activated safely and reliably for over
four decades. Surry 1 began commercial
operation in 1972 and Surry 2 followed in the
spring of 1973. I’ll remind you it was an
era when state and federal regulators were encouraging
utilities to convert from coal to oil, as oil
was viewed as more environmentally-friendly
than coal and less costly than nuclear. But in the fall of 73,
oil prices tripled in what energy analysts call
the first oil shock. Dominion customers have
benefitted for more than 40 years from the courageous
decision of our leadership at that time to
build these units. We have never had cause
to regret that decision. Today, Surry’s operating
costs are among the lowest in the nation. Licenses are set to expire
though in 2032 and 2033 respectively just after
the 2030 implementation milestone in the
Clean Power Plan. As a recent Third Way
report notes, if U.S. plants are to begin
retiring in droves, achieving the Clean Power
Plan emissions reduction targets could be impossible. Over the next several years
we’ll submit thousands of pages to the NRC
demonstrating the safety and technical feasibility of
extending Surry’s operating licenses. We’re excited to be the
first utility in the U.S. to begin this process. But in addition to
the technical issues, we also have to run through
the business case to make sure that license extension
makes sense for our customers and
our shareholders. Our long history with
nuclear power is encouraging on all these fronts. It is in our societal
interest to keep operating well functioning, carbon
free nuclear units. Losing this emission free
capacity as a result of shortcomings and
energy policy, would be more
than unfortunate, it would be tragic. I speak from experience in
this regard as two years ago Dominion decided to shut
down the Kewaunee nuclear station in Wisconsin despite
having invested to extend its license to 2033 and
despite many accolades for outstanding operation
performance, Kewaunee had to be shut
down due to unfavorable economics, owing to low
natural gas prices and powder river basin and coal
process and an expiring power purchase agreement. As a result, carbon dioxide
emissions have increased in the state of Wisconsin by
over 5 million tons per year. We cannot afford more such
policy failures if we are to achieve the desired carbon
reduction goals advanced by the President. And on that point, I’ll
conclude with a few comments on the CPP, the
Clean Power Plan. At Dominion since our
landmark new source review agreement with the EPA and
our state regulators in 2002, we have dramatically
reduced our emissions while maintaining reliable and
stable service to our customers. Dominion will work with the
Commonwealth of Virginia to craft a workable state
implementation plan, and we will advocate for an
approach that is friendly to both the environment
and to our customers. We believe that these goals
are not mutually exclusive and can be reached. Nuclear power is a critical
part of achieving that balance. I appreciate the opportunity
to join in this discussion. Thank you. (applause) Ken Caldeira: Hi, I’m Ken
Caldeira with the Carnegie Institution for Science and
thank you for inviting me. And first I’d like to say
that it’s really encouraging to see the administration
arguing for a broad portfolio and supporting
nuclear power at this meeting in preparation for
COP 21 and hopefully other countries will embrace the
portfolio approach that’s embraced by our government. So, I’d like to do a
couple of things here. Basically I’m going to take
a cue from the previous speaker and give a little
biographical background and then talk a little bit about
the role that scientists and environmentalists might play
in helping nuclear power to achieve its potential. And I’m probably one of the
few people in this room who was arrested demonstrating
against nuclear power at a nuclear power plant. In the early 1980s I was
arrested at the front gates of the Shoreham power plant
in Long Island which I’m sure Long Island rate payers
are ready to thank me for that. And since that time
obviously I decided to go to graduate school and study
climate science and there’s a few things about climate
and the carbon cycle that I became aware of. I mean first of all, one
thing is the unprecedented nature of what we’re doing. That the — to find a time
in Earth history where CO2 concentrations were or where
climate was changing as rapidly as it is right now
you probably have to go back some tens of
millions of years. And, you know, if we
look at, you know, the IPCC projects something
like two feet of sea level rise this century, but we
just published paper looking at what happens in the
longer term and our model projected if we continue
down the current trajectory, that in 1,000 years sea
level could be say 100 feet higher than it is today with
average levels of sea level rise of an inch a year. So, part of my personal
trajectory recently, I think the reason
why I’m here is, three other prominent
climate scientists and myself wrote a letter
advocating renewed effort improving and deploying
nuclear power in response to the climate threat. And one of the signers of
that letter — Kerry Emanuel — had predicted that
climate change would lead to intensification
of hurricanes. Well, there was just a
hurricane that landed into Mexico that had the most
intense winds ever measured in a hurricane. Hurricane force
cyclone hit Yemen, the Arabia peninsula
a week or two ago, which was the first time in
a recorded history that such a storm had ever hit
the Arabian Peninsula. And both of these are
associated with high sea surface temperatures and
consistent with global warming. So, we’re starting to see
the kinds of things that the models have been projecting. If you — another body of
research shows that each carbon dioxide emission
leads to another increment of warming, and so if
you want to stabilize atmospheric CO2
concentration — I mean, if you want to stabilize
temperatures — I’m already to a minute, my God. If you want to
stabilize temperatures, you basically have to
eliminate emissions. The demand for energy
services over this next century is likely to increase by an order of magnitude. We, at the same time, over
this century probably need to decrease emissions by
an order of magnitude. So if you need to provide
ten times as much energy services with one tenth the
emissions you’re getting down to that one percent
level which, you know, means that you’re not going
to do that — most likely you’re not going to do
that without nuclear power. And so I think that
the scientists and environmentalists
should — I mean, the environmental community
should be embracing nuclear power as one of the very
few technologies that can provide high-density power in an environmentally acceptable way. And I think that scientists
like myself might be a good pathway to the environmental
community in that scientists are trained to look at
facts and so when I was demonstrating in front
of Shoreham, you know, it was after
Three Mile Island, this idea of radiation —
meltdown and all of this and the whole nuclear weapons
thing in the background. You know, my response
was a rational, fact based response and I
think it’s really important to get scientists to look
at the actual data on, you know, what’s the
mortality rates due to coal burning versus nuclear
burning and so on. And I think when the
scientists gain the understanding, scientists
will change their mind and hopefully the rest of the
environmental community will follow. So I guess I’ll
stop it there. Thank you. (applause) William Magwood
IV: Good afternoon. It’s good to see all
of you here today, especially since most of you
are very familiar with me. (laughter) I know this isn’t about me,
but it certainly feels like it is, because there are
people here that trace my whole life. There’s people from the
electric utility industry, back when I worked at EEI. There’s people here from the
Clinton administration DOE; there’s Bush
administration from DOE, nuclear regulatory
commissioners — Hi Christine. It’s really great to see all
of you because this is an important conversation. Today — I’m
coming from Paris, so I’m still a
little jetlagged, so excuse me if I say anything that’s completely insane. But, what I’ll try to do
today is give you a quick snapshot of what we’re
thinking about from the international perspective. The NEA, the Nuclear
Engineering Agency’s part of the OECD and our job is to
facilitate cooperation among 31 member countries. Now you can imagine, our
member countries are quite diverse. They range from Germany,
which is shutting down nuclear plants to the U.K. which is building
as fast as they can, to almost everything
in between. Recently we added Russia
as a member country. We have — we have
small countries, such as Luxembourg. We have big countries. We have a pretty wide range. So you can imagine that
the discussions among those countries can be
quite interesting, and they agree on very,
very few things including my budget, as it turns out. But one thing they do all
seem to agree about is that there needs to be
significant action taken on climate change. This is within the
OECD countries. Something’s become quite of
a very remarkable unified position they’ve all taken. Now while the details about
what to do and how to do it are all over the place,
clearly the interest in doing something
is very strong. So, my organization working
in concert with our sister organization, the
International Energy Agency, which is also
located in Paris, have worked together and
created something that we call the Two
Degree C Scenario. The Two Degree C Scenario is
designed to look at how we would actually achieve our
energy supply requirements under the restriction that
we were trying to meet this two degree to C target that
John Holdren talked about earlier. And it proves to be a very
interesting exercise if you look at this from simply a
common metric point of view. And I — we don’t
have view graphs, but I do have this slide,
which actually there will be handouts — where’s Faye? Faye, where are you? Well, Faye will make the
handouts available to you after this session. But I’ll tell you
what his says. What this basically says
is that this is going to be very difficult. (laughter) This is going to be
difficult because we are going to have to increase
the use of renewables very dramatically. Solar will have to increase
quite dramatically, wind will have to
increase dramatically, carbon sequestration will have to be used quite significantly. We’ll have to use more gas,
and we’re going to have to use more nuclear. As a matter of fact,
in this scenario, which was done by the
IEA, not by the NEA, nuclear will have to
increase 2.3 times in order to meet the scenario. That’s the equivalent of 500
large nuclear power plants built in addition to
what we operate today. That’s going to be a
very, very difficult goal. Now, many countries,
as I said, don’t believe that nuclear
power is a part of the answer. Some countries quite
aggressively feel that nuclear power is not
a part of the answer. But, I think the message of
the two degree C scenario is really simply this — that
is you take nuclear off the table, the task of meeting
these targets becomes very, very difficult if
not impossible. So, if you take nuclear off,
then you have to have that much more wind, you have to
have that much more solar, that much more carbon
sequestration and the risk of all those are
already quite high. So this is a very, very
challenging effort. And this assumes,
by the way, that we’re going to vastly
increase our efficiency from going — we’re
currently on track, I think someone
mentioned earlier, to basically double
electricity demand by 2050. This scenario assumes that
only increases worldwide by about 75 percent, and
within the OECD countries, much less because we’re
expecting to see much, much greater use of
electricity in the developing world. Let me just conclude by
saying that I will also provide with you
this brochure. The NEA is one of the few
organizations that are nuclear experienced that
will actually be in the middle of the COP effort. It will be in the blue zone. And we’re going to
provide this brochure, which I’m giving you to —
I’m giving you this early today, so you’re the first
to get it and we’ll all — so this will be available
to you as well as after the session. So, I look to the
continued discussion, thank you very much. (applause) Paul Bodnar: Good afternoon. Unfortunately I don’t have
a brochure for you but hopefully in a few weeks
I’ll be able to bring you an international
climate agreement, and I won’t get to hang out
in the blue zone in the COP because I’ll be stuck
in the red zone. But, I just want to give
you a little bit of an orientation to the
diplomatic side of the international
climate challenge. You know, climate change had
proved to be one of the most difficult problems that the
international community has ever tried to deal with in
the international relations context, because it’s a
collective action problem, because it’s in the interest
of every country to wait until others act. Because there are
intergenerational problems that are particularly
difficult to deal with. Now, the United States
is obviously committed to leading the world in the
transition to a low carbon economy, and as
others have mentioned, in that transition, we see
a strong role for nuclear energy. Jason noted that we’re
a few weeks about Paris, so let me tell you a little
bit about what that’s about in just a couple minutes. We’ve been chasing a
solution for 20-plus years to how you design an
international regime that works and incentivizes
strong action on climate change and emission
reductions. But the solutions that we’ve
come up with so far — the Kyoto Protocol, even
the Copenhagen Accord, which the President helped
broker — are not enough, and we’ve learned a
lot along the way. So when we came into office,
we decided that we needed a different approach than the
Kyoto Protocol approach that was not politically accepted
here in the United States — an approach that’s designed
for the economic realities of the next
century and beyond. And we started with the
hardest issue of all, which is how are the U.S. and China going to agree
on an approach to climate change? And the U.S. and China were traditionally cast as the captains of opposing teams
in this debate; the international climate
discourse was heavily about historic responsibility
and compensation, and who’s responsible,
and who should pay whom. And President Obama and
President Xi managed to really break that mold,
and usher in a new era of climate diplomacy last year
when we — when they stood together and announced
to the world a surprise announcement of our post
2020 climate targets. And I think that approach,
which is to say it’s time to stop arguing about the past
and start focusing on the future, has really paid off. As Jason mentioned more than
150 countries have now put forward their climate
targets representing almost 90 percent of
global emissions. Now, those targets
for 2025 and 2030, are not going to get us all
the way to keeping global temperatures below two
degrees increase above the pre-industrial levels. They’re just for
2025 and 2030. They’re just the next
step in this story. And what the Paris agreement
is about — is about creating a system that
allows countries to ratchet their emissions down over
the coming decades towards a decarbonization of the
global economy by the end of this century. So it’s a system. It’s a machine. It’s a ratchet that
we’re trying to design. Hopefully every five years
the countries will put forward new and newer
targets that get more and more ambitious over time
with this long-term goal in mind. That’s our vision for
the Paris agreement, and if you read that in the
headlines after the Paris climate conference you will
know that we have succeeded. In that system — that
system is technology neutral. It’s built on the notion
that countries decide what hey want to do, but with
a lot of incentives to be ambitious. It’s a so-called nationally
determined approach. So we will get to choose —
just as every country gets to choose — how we
meet ambitious targets. What countries are held
accountable for is their emissions. How they meet emissions
targets is up to them. And certainly, from the perspective of the United States, nuclear power is a
very important component of that strategy, as it is for
China, as it is for India, as it is for Japan
and other countries. So, I met with a group of
you a little while ago and I was happy to see you
have long memories. Some remember a provision
that was put into place as part of Kyoto called
the Bonn Agreement, which I don’t think
anyone else remembers. Which didn’t make nuclear
power eligible under the carbon market provisions
of the Kyoto Protocol. Those days are long gone,
and we move forward from Paris with the technology
neutral approach. And so I hope that you see
Paris as a — one of the most important pieces
of stimulus in our time, potentially, for
accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy, in
which nuclear power really has a comparative advantage
over other forms of base load power generation. So that’s the most basic
frame I can give you and I’d be happy to answer
questions and have a dialog. Thanks. (applause) Jason Walsh: So, I’m
going to ask a couple of questions, but while I’m
doing that let me ask my colleagues who are going
to be passing out notes and then collecting them from
the audience to raise their hands on both sides. You know who you are. Okay. So if you’ve got a question,
please raise your hand and we’ll make sure a
card gets to you, and you can write that
question down and then pass it back to whoever
gave you that card. And then at some point one
of my colleagues is going to bring them up here and I
will do my best to decipher the handwriting and ask
the question to the panel. Can people hear me okay
or do I need a mic? Male Speaker:
You need a mic. Jason Walsh: You need a mic. Okay. Is the mic on? Male Speaker: Yes. Jason Walsh: I’m going to
ask a question of Janet McCabe. Janet, at the end
of your remarks, you made a reference
to mass-based versus rate-based. I’m wondering if you could
talk just a little bit more about this,
because of course, this is a choice that states
will have and what the implications of that would
be for nuclear energy? Janet McCabe: Sure. So (inaudible) rule as
pretty much most EPA rules are written in terms of a
rate of carbon per unit of electricity produced. The Clean Air Act doesn’t
seek to limit the amount of production. It seeks to make each
unit of production very, very clean. So, that’s the basic
approach that fossil energy needs to meet a lower
rate of carbon intensity, and the way the rule is set
up states and utilities can use clean energy and average
that in with their — with their fossil units. Because there are some
states already moving ahead to an approach that involves
a mass-based approach, the Regional Greenhouse Gas
Initiative states in the northeast and California. We heard from states,
“Please provide us an opportunity to design a
plan that sets a mass-based target and then we
work towards that.” So the rule allows that. In both cases nuclear
power can participate. It can generate emission
rate credits that utilities can use to offset their
carbon rate from their fossil plants. Alternatively, if it’s a
mass-based approach and nuclear power is taking
the place of fossil power, it sort of seamlessly
helps the state reach their target. So either way
is appropriate, and in either case nuclear
power can definitely be a very vigorous tool
and effective tool. Jason Walsh:
Thank you, Janet. Dave, there are a number of
drivers for the premature economic shutdown
of nuclear plants, some of which federal
policy has control over, some of which it does not. Could you talk a little bit
more about what you see as the most important
federal policy drivers? In other words, what can
the federal government do to mitigate premature
economic shutdown? David Christian: At
the federal level, I actually think we’re going
to have to strive for a confluence of market policy
which has got some tie in with the federal energy
regulatory commission, state policy, and then —
and perhaps in some cases, particularly in the Midwest,
we need to be thoughtful about how long we keep
incentives in place once a technology has become
matured and you’ve got very large scale deployment of
it that results in some regional market distortion. So, I don’t think there’s
a — necessarily a single federal answer there. I think we’re going to have
to have a confluence of state focus, market
policy focus, and perhaps some federal
focus to prevent these plants from closing down. Jason Walsh:
Thank you, Dave. Bill, there’s
obviously — I mean, you’re here representing
the OECD, which is, for the most part, already
developed economies. But I’m wondering if you
could talk just a little bit more about the challenge we
face of delinking economic growth from increased
carbon pollution. William Magwood IV:
Well, over the last, I’d say 20 years we’ve
started to see a little separation between GDP
growth in many countries and carbon emissions, but they
still track quite closely. We’re going to have to
delink them much further if we’re going to be successful
at meeting any of these targets. And this is going to be
extraordinarily difficult, particularly in
developing countries, because in developing
countries we have something on the order of 1.5 billion
people that have no access to electricity at all. And they are going to get
access to electricity, and they are going to
be driving a lot of the emissions, and a lot of the
energy use in the future. So, the only way to really
delink them further is to rely more on low
carbon technologies. One thing, and this is a
little bit of a corollary to what Dave was saying a few
minutes ago — one thing we find around almost all of
the OECD member countries, is that the policies in
place across the board in market design and tax policy
and a lot of other areas incentivize use of fossil
fuels and actually penalize low carbon technologies, not
just nuclear but nuclear, renewables and
others as well, and it’s just in the case of
renewables that renewables are getting extra help
through various other policies, but it leaves
nuclear sort of sitting there without a safety net. And that’s something we see
really across all the OECD countries. Jason Walsh: Thank you. I’m going to — with apology
pivot to questions from the audience because I want to
make sure we’ve got enough time for that. This is a question,
Janet, for you. The Clean Power Plan assumes
nuclear continues at 20 percent of electricity
generation for the country by 2030 but many plants are
closing prematurely and more will but 2020. How can the Clean
Power Plan stop that? Janet McCabe: The
Clean Power Plan is not all-powerful, and we also
didn’t just pick a number and stick it at the end
of our regulatory impact analysis. That number came from the
analysis that we did using a variety of factors and data
and models that people are familiar with. I think that as I say, we
can’t on our own through this policy change the
trajectory for power plants that are effected by
many, many factors as Dave mentioned. But, it is clear that if
a power plant — a nuclear plant closes down, that is
zero carbon generation that a state will need to
accommodate in its plan and there’s definitely an
incentive built in to keep those clean resources going. And also an incentive to
build new or to upright existing nuclear plants, and
states can choose policies that incentivize those
activities under the Clean Power Plan. Jason Walsh: So, I’m going
to do one more question, and I think it’s an
appropriate follow up to the one you just took, Janet. And there’s clearly a bit of
interest in the Clean Power Plan in this room. It’s my understanding the
Clean Power Plan doesn’t credit nuclear
license extension. Why is that? Janet McCabe: So we looked
at the universe as of 2012, which is, we always have
to have a starting place whenever we do one of these
technology-based rules. And so we build on that
— on that universe. And there is a certain
amount of existing nuclear production at that time. We count as creditable in a
plan anything that is new or up-righted after that. An extension doesn’t add
more zero carbon generation into the system. It maintains the zero carbon
generation that’s already there. That is not to diminish the
extensive effort that it takes to relicense a plant. It’s reflecting,
however, our job, which is carbon
in the atmosphere, and how those electrons
are being generated. Jason: Okay, thank you. Okay, I’m going to
keep us on time here. Please join me in thanking
our panelists on the first panel. (applause)

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