As the tech wars over Rare Earths and other critical metals and minerals deepen, competition is heating up in another field of resource policy. In a new piece for the Washington Times, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) discusses the new realities of a globalized energy market and the consequences associated with America’s declining nuclear energy sector.
While America’s energy dominance is unquestionable, “we cannot rest on our laurels,”writes Sen. Murkowski, who worries that the federal government has been too slow to adjust, and that “our striking lack of robust tools for economic statecraft impairs our ability to reach commercial deals and build critical infrastructure on a strategic basis.”
“[O]ne of the few technologies that can provide zero-emission on-demand heat and electricity,” she says, is nuclear energy, but with eight reactors having closed in the United States since 2013, and only two new reactors being built, this industry is facing rapid decline, in spite of the fact that the new generation of nuclear power features reactors that are “smaller, safer, operate more flexibly, have higher efficiency, produce less or no waste, and have additional operational benefits over the existing fleet.”
To counter the decline, Congress is working to speed up the development of such advanced reactors, and we are currently awaiting the results of the “U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group” announced in July to conduct a “fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain,” the findings of which are due later this year.
However, Sen. Murkowski says, “demonstrating the technology at home as an energy and climate solution is not sufficient to enable competitive global nuclear exports” and argues that the U.S. is ceding its edge in the global competition for energy dominance to Russia and China, state-owned companies of which are offering financing, fuel services and technical know-how to nations turning to nuclear technology to meet rising energy demands.
Touting her “Strategic Energy Initiative (SEI)” which she unveiled in July to “sharpen and direct our tools of energy- related economic statecraft to enhance the geopolitical posture of the United States,” she closes:
“Our energy future is bright, but only if we recognize the world we are in. Prosperity, after all, is not a birthright. We as Americans know that it is earned.”
To learn more about the Strategic Energy Initiative aimed at sharpening the focus of and strengthening federal departments and agencies, such as the Department of Energy, and trade and finance-related institutions such as the Trade Development Agency, the Export-Import Bank, and the Development Finance Corporation (as it evolves from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation), click here: