4 Big Takeaways From the 2020 Nuclear Caucus

With fewer than 90 days until the 2020 election and many states starting early voting next month, the time to advocate for nuclear carbon-free energy is now.

On August 4, Nuclear Matters convened its inaugural 2020 Nuclear Caucus to discuss the merits of nuclear energy and outline what advocates can do to support clean, carbon-free energy leading up to the November election. Our panelists included two Nuclear Matters Advocacy Council members – former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Jeff Merrifield – who discussed the integral role nuclear power plays in America today, particularly as it relates to clean energy and decarbonization, job creation and economic recovery, and national security. The panelists also identified strategies for our grassroots advocates to effectively recruit new supporters for nuclear energy. They were joined by Nuclear Matters Political Council Chair and Boundary Stone Partners Co-Founder Jeff Navin, who provided a detailed overview of how myriad election outcomes could impact the future of American energy.

Here are four big takeaways from our discussion:

1. There is finally bipartisan support for nuclear energy. Both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention support nuclear energy in their 2020 platforms, reaffirming there is a growing, bipartisan consensus on the value of our nation’s largest source of carbon-free energy. If President Trump is re-elected, we can expect continued support for the existing fleet and more significant investments by DOE into advanced nuclear technologies, much like his first term in office. Should Biden take control of the White House, we’re likely to see a ~$400 billion investment over ten years in clean energy and innovation, including R&D for advanced nuclear reactors. Adopting a “technology-neutral” approach to energy policy, Vice President Biden has carved out a key role for nuclear carbon-free energy in the fight against climate change.

2. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, much of the fight for the future of nuclear energy is in the states. States across the country such as Washington, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia have led the efforts to advance clean energy standards when the federal government has stalled. We are encouraged by the progress some states have made, but there is more work to be done in battleground states that rely on nuclear energy to provide their residents with reliable, affordable and clean power—including Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina, to name a few.

3. Tell your friends about nuclear energy. One distinct advantage of advocating for nuclear energy is that the facts are on our side. One significant challenge is that many folks who don’t know these facts form their opinions on nuclear energy based on pop culture or inaccurate and anecdotal sources. Jeff Merrifield recounted a friend once telling him that most of his anti-nuclear opinions were informed by The Simpsons, while Carol Browner described a similar story based on Sim City’s portrayal of nuclear power. The best way to combat these popular misconceptions is with the facts. Starting a conversation with one of your friends, family or colleagues could be the first step towards creating another advocate for nuclear energy – so start now!

4. The most important thing you can do is use your voice and vote informed – all the way down the ballot. With an election around the corner, local, state and federal legislators are working to earn your vote – and that means it’s the best time to tell them why you support nuclear energy and explain why they should, too. As Carol Browner said during our panel, “You can never underestimate the power of citizens raising their voices. The more officials can hear from their constituents, the better they can serve.” You can also advocate for nuclear energy in your community by taking action through our Action Center.

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