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Webb: Investments in nuclear will boost economy

Sen. Jim Webb is on board with President Obama’s push for new investments in nuclear energy.

“These investments in nuclear energy technologies will help invigorate the U.S. economy and expand access to clean, domestic energy,” Webb, D-Va., said today. “They are going to keep the United States competitive in a global marketplace that has accelerated the development of nuclear power.”

In addition to the current $18.5 billion loan guarantee authority, the president’s proposed budget for fiscal-year 2012 requests an additional $36 billion in government-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors, a move that would support development of another six to eight projects. The request sets aside more than $850 million for nuclear energy research and includes $192 million to develop and license nuclear reactor technologies, including small reactors that would cost less to build and operate.

Webb has been a leading voice in Congress for the development of nuclear power and innovative energy solutions. Obama’s request includes key proposals made by Webb and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in their Clean Energy Act of 2009, which would invest $20 billion over ten years to fund loan guarantees, nuclear education and workforce training, nuclear reactor lifetime-extension, and incentives for the development of solar power, biofuels, and alternative power technologies.

The legislation would direct the Department of Energy to conduct five “Mini-Manhattan Projects” to study carbon capture and conversion technologies, non-ethanol biofuels, electric vehicles and electricity storage, cost-competitive solar power, and Generation IV reactors and technologies that will ultimately reduce nuclear waste.

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at