The irony is that the beneficiary of Monday's ruling won't be wind power, solar power, or any of the other renewable technologies favored by the Green establishment. Their economic and technological limitations are too severe for them ever to occupy more than a small niche in the American energy economy. Instead, one of the winners from Massachusetts v. EPA just may be something that many of the environmentalists who brought the suit have long abhorred: nuclear power. Like renewables, nuclear power generates electricity with no pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions. But unlike renewables, nuclear is capable of generating reliable power on a massive scale, which is what our country's future energy demands will require.
Nuclear power is on the verge of making a comeback in the United States. Thanks to several favorable provisions in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as a streamlined licensing process, it is possible we could see the construction of new plants start within several years. The economics for new plant construction are still being worked out, particularly with regard to financing and federal loan guarantees. But there can be no doubt that federal efforts to hamstring coal can only help nuclear. Moreover, any future regulatory scheme allowing nuclear power plant operators to earn credits for generating emissions-free electricity would enhance nuclear's attractiveness to investors.
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