Nuclear Energy on the Rise: Expert Perspectives on What to Expect from the Biden Administration

The incoming Biden administration’s ambitious climate plan presents a new high bar for the energy industry to reach – a daunting but exciting challenge. Thankfully, President-elect Biden’s proposed tech-neutral approach will employ all the tools in our low-carbon energy toolkit and will be focused squarely on the need to accelerate decarbonization to levels never before seen.

Proponents of an energy mix that includes nuclear as a carbon-free, reliable element have made themselves heard across the political spectrum, and support for nuclear energy represents a rare area of bipartisan agreement on clean energy policy. Exciting advancements in next-generation nuclear energy technology are being driven by innovators across the country, with projects underway to demonstrate several groundbreaking nuclear reactor designs. In addition to proving the commercial potential of new nuclear energy systems, these demonstrations will have significant implications for our global nuclear energy leadership and will open the door to creating thousands of well-paying, long-term jobs. Adding new nuclear generation on top of the twenty percent of U.S. electricity coming from nuclear energy today will help accelerate the necessary shift in the country’s energy portfolio away from fossil fuels and towards a future increasingly powered by wind, solar, and nuclear carbon-free energy.

If that sounds like a big task, that’s because it is – which is why we’ve brought together some of the leading voices in the industry to reflect on what the next chapter of the U.S. energy landscape might look like, and the trends and key advancements they’re seeing shape that future.

John Kotek, Nuclear Matters President



 Jessica Lovering, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Good Energy Collective

Looking forward to the next few years of nuclear energy policy, I think we can expect two big trends that are a reaction to the growing influence of the progressive climate movement. First, we will likely see nuclear integrated into broader climate policy rather than stand-alone nuclear bills. President-elect Biden’s initial cabinet announcements show a serious commitment to climate, but with a near 50/50 split in Congress there will likely need to be compromise on any legislation such that it includes support for a diverse suite of low-carbon technologies.

Second, both from the Biden campaign’s climate policy and the President-Elect’s selection of Rep. Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior, there will likely be a growing focus on environmental justice, which could be particularly relevant for nuclear in terms of sustainable uranium mining and cleaning up legacy sites. The industry will need to take both of these trends seriously and reflect on nuclear’s role in more aggressive climate change legislation as well as how to address legacy and ongoing environmental justice issues across the nuclear fuel cycle.

Ben Husch – Federal Affairs Counsel, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

Our nation stands on the precipice of a wholesale change in how we produce and consume energy. As states continue to take action to address the evolving energy landscape, NCSL urges President-elect Biden’s administration to work cooperatively with state governments to develop, implement and maintain an expansive, integrated, environmentally sensitive and cost-effective national energy policy. This includes, but of course is not limited to, avoidance of mandates, promotion of energy efficiency, use of fuel economy standards, recognition of a spectrum of renewable resources and acknowledgement that nuclear energy generates an essential share of the nation’s clean, non-emitting, zero carbon electricity. NCSL also believes FERC should revoke its recently finalized MOPR for PJM Interconnection because it undermines a state’s ability to determine its own energy mix. 

 Ewelina Czapla – Director of Energy Policy, American Action Forum

Advanced nuclear technology, such as the designs under review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has matured and offers a reliable solution to the problems posed by climate change. As President-Elect Biden continues to assemble his team of appointments with the climate crisis declared as a top priority, this technology could play a role in his administration’s response. Advanced nuclear technology has the potential to offer consistent emissions-free power like its predecessors that currently provide 19 percent of power generated in the United States. It may also provide improved safety and flexibility that are important as the installation of clean energy technology continues to grow. 

In 2019, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act was enacted to reform the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process to more appropriately review advanced nuclear technology. Additional legislation and changes to existing regulation are necessary, however, for advanced nuclear to competitively participate in the global market. This means considering the complete lifecycle of the technology, from the sourcing of new fuels to the rules governing export and the storage of resulting waste. With its ability to gain bipartisan support, advanced nuclear technology could be the solution we need as we look to the next chapter of US energy policy.  


Jeff Navin – Co-Founder and Partner, Boundary Stone Partners

The Democrats' energy policy agenda will focus on eliminating carbon emissions, and policies that fairly value zero-carbon sources of energy are the best way to ensure a robust future for nuclear power. Biden campaigned on nuclear, and for the first time in nearly half a century, the Democratic platform explicitly endorsed nuclear as a climate solution. And as we’ve seen in recent years, nuclear is a place where Democrats and Republicans can work together. This has resulted in bipartisan support at the state and federal level to preserve the existing fleet and to rapidly commercialize advanced nuclear technologies. To achieve our rapid decarbonization and economic revitalization goals, we will need to build on the bipartisan consensus nuclear has received in recent years.