News

Cap-and-trade bill to include nuclear power: US lawmaker Hoyer

Washington (Platts)--19May2009

US lawmakers will include an amendment promoting nuclear power to a
cap-and-trade carbon emissions bill now being discussed in a mark-up session,
US House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told nuclear industry
officials Tuesday.

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told a Nuclear Energy Institute conference in
Washington that the amendment would be offered by Michigan Democrat John
Dingell at the markup of the energy legislation.

Hoyer said the amendment would make clear in the Department of Energy's
$18.5 billion Title 17 loan guarantee program for new reactors that a final
"term sheet" from the Secretary of Energy constitutes a binding commitment. A
term sheet is an agreement with specific terms for the loan guarantee. "That
will allow energy projects to obtain the non-federal financing they need with
surety that the federal government will proceed," Hoyer said.

The title also adds Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protections to the Title
17 program. The Depression-era Davis-Bacon Act requires contractors on
federally funded construction work to pay craft labor at least the hourly wage
prevailing in the area for each craft as set by the Department of Labor.

The amendment would also create a DOE Clean Energy Deployment
Administration, which would provide financing to "a wide range" of energy
technologies, including nuclear projects. The administration's members would
be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Hoyer said the
provision has "broad support among Democrats of many different political views
and from many different regions."

Hoyer noted that a new funding mechanism for energy projects, in the form
of an Energy Bank, is being debated in committee on both sides of Congress.
But he said such a program should not displace existing programs, such as the
one offering loan guarantees.

Hoyer said the issue of nuclear waste "deserves serious, bicameral talks,
and possibly even a national commission." President Barack Obama's
administration plans to kill the federal program aimed at storing nuclear
waste at a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

"As long as nuclear power remains an important part of our national
energy portfolio, nuclear waste will be a national issue -- and the House will
have an important role to play in the debate," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said nuclear power has a part in meeting American's nuclear energy
needs and he would continue to advocate "a policy of balance," including
renewables, coal with carbon capture, and investment in energy efficiency.

--Tom Harrison, tom_harrison@platts.com

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