Sanders and Warren Decry Nuclear Power in Climate Change Plans

Nuclear energy produces nearly no carbon emissions

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September 12, 2019

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) are taking aim at nuclear energy in their climate change plans, even though nuclear plants produce nearly no carbon emissions.

"To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators," Sanders's Green New Deal states.

Sanders's $16 trillion plan to tackle climate change includes energy efficiency, incentivizing decarbonization, and a carbon tax.

"You're going to have a lot of taxpayers out there who will be paying more in taxes," Sanders said, answering how he will pay for his plan.

Sanders and Warren want to end license renewals of existing nuclear plants and stop the building of new ones.

"We're not going to build any nuclear power plants and we're going to start weaning ourselves off nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable fuels," Warren said during CNN's climate town hall.

But the USA Today editorial board blasted Warren and Sanders for running an "absurd arms race" on environmental policy and generally exhibiting a "lack of seriousness" about energy.

"Perhaps nothing shows the lack of seriousness more than the candidates who play the anti-nuclear card even while claiming to be sincere about global warming," the editorial board wrote.

According to the Department of Energy, nuclear energy has the highest capacity factor of any energy source. Nuclear power plants are providing their maximum power output about 92 percent of the time, making them especially reliable in the estimation of the Department of Energy.

Nuclear power plants also produce nearly no carbon emissions, making nuclear energy a viable option in Democrats' stated mission to stop climate change.

"Nuclear power plants are typically used more often because they require less maintenance and are designed to operate for longer stretches before refueling (typically every 1.5 or 2 years)," the Department of Energy states. "Natural gas and coal capacity factors are generally lower due to routine maintenance and/or refueling at these facilities."