Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes
Edited by Stefan E. Weishaar, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne, Hope Ashiabor and Michael Mehling
Chapter 8: Considerations against subsidies and tax incentives for nuclear energy
In the United States (U.S.), subsidies and tax preferences for generating electricity from nuclear energy provide incentives for creating difficult to remediate environmental damage. Nuclear energy is erroneously claimed by proponents as an environmentally friendly way to meet the country’s energy needs. Energy can be extracted from atoms either through fusion or fission. Theoretically, energy from fusion is limitless without any environmental consequences. The problem is that energy from fusion is not possible under current technology. Although it is true that the process of fission per se does not emit any greenhouse gases, it is not true that electricity generated by nuclear power plants is environmentally friendly. Over their life cycle, nuclear power plants emit greenhouse gases. The worst threat is posed by radiation from nuclear power plant accidents and from nuclear waste. Countless studies about the impact of this radiation on human health and the environment are contradictory. Some studies assert that the impact is not all that bad; other studies assert that the impact is devastating. Determining which position is correct is a difficult task. In light of the known and contradictory claims about the environmental and human health impact of nuclear energy, the issue in the U.S. is whether any new nuclear power plants should be granted subsidies and tax incentives. Prudence suggests erring on the side of caution. The chapter commences by first explaining the essence of nuclear energy and then examining the advantages and disadvantages of fusion and fission; subsequently, the chapter examines the U.S. nuclear industry, its subsidies, tax incentives and environmental effects.
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