Nuclear Energy Institute responds to Chu's departure

The Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO Marvin Fertel issued a statement Friday in response to the news that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed he will leave the Obama cabinet in the coming weeks. Fertel praised Chu for his “strong belief in the expansion of nuclear energy,” and advised that Chu’s successor prioritize developing a national spent fuel solution for the nuclear industry.

His full statement is below:

"The nuclear energy industry extends our thanks to Secretary Chu for his service to the nation and our best wishes to him and his family in his future endeavors.

"The industry greatly appreciates Secretary Chu's strong belief in the expansion of nuclear energy as a vital clean-energy technology for our nation. His leadership with regard to the construction of new nuclear energy facilities was important symbolically and substantively. This applies to the larger reactors that already are part of the backbone of our nation's electricity grid, as well as innovative small reactor designs that offer great promise as a complementary technology.

"The energy, environmental and economic challenges confronting our nation make it imperative that Secretary Chu's successor continue to recognize nuclear energy as a vital part of our energy and environmental policy. As a reliable provider of affordable, low-carbon electricity, nuclear energy is important both for the electricity itself and the many ancillary benefits: job creation, grid stability and energy security chief among them.

"Any future secretary must and should recognize that the agency has legal and contractual obligations to fulfill with regard to nuclear waste management. This includes continuing and completing the licensing review of the planned repository for used nuclear fuel and high-level waste from U.S. defense programs at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Our next Secretary of Energy should recognize that his or her job will be made easier by moving aggressively to implement many of the sound recommendations made last year by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, notably development of one or more consolidated storage facilities for used nuclear fuel at volunteer sites, assured access to the Nuclear Waste Fund, and a new, congressionally chartered federal corporation dedicated solely to implementing the waste management program and empowered with the authority and resources to succeed."

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