Study: Nuclear energy fuels economy, preserves environment

Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Newport, Michigan
Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Newport, Michigan | Contributed photo
Nuclear power contributes significantly to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and in cutting carbon emissions, a Tuesday report on a recent study by Brattle Group economists indicated.

The study found that nuclear power has made electricity more affordable, created approximiately 475,000 full-time positions and contributes approximately $60 billion to GDP annually.

An additional $25 billion is saved through lower carbon emissions. Federal estimates indicate that nuclear energy has prevented the release of 573 million tons of carbon dioxide from the environment.

“The economic and environmental benefits of nuclear energy are often undervalued in national and state energy-policy discussions,” Mark Berkman, co-author of the report and a principal at the Brattle Group, said. “It is even more critical to consider the significant value of U.S. nuclear plants in a landscape where several factors threaten some nuclear facilities and could diminish the industry’s contribution to our electricity supply, the economy and the environment.”

Approximately 20 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. is done so through nuclear reactors. Despite the economic benefits of nuclear energy, the report said the industry faces policy and economic challenges that have caused some nuclear plants to shut down.

"The answer to one of our biggest environmental and economic challenges lies, in part, in nuclear energy," Nuclear Matters co-chairman and former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said. "Without nuclear power, it would be impossible to achieve our carbon-reduction objectives.”