Energy Secretary Bodman has proposed new legislation to reduce the construction risk and to speed up licensing of four nuclear power plants that could be completed by 2014. The laws would apply to four nuclear plants planned to be built using new designs by General Electric and Westinghouse. The legislation would provide insurance against costs incurred because of regulatory delays and rules to make it harder to stop a plant from operating once it has been built. See this article from the San Diego Union-Tribune for more details.
We will need a large number of electric power plants to be built in the future due to obsolescence and increased demand, regardless of any efforts to conserve or use of renewable energy. While I prefer clean coal or IGCC plants with sequestration, they probably cannot be built fast enough to meet our requirements. Besides we need to continue to develop other technologies on a reasonable basis as we will, for all practical purposes, run out of fossil fuels in 50-100 years. While I have no strong objections to this legislation for the first four plants, it does set a precedent and must be written carefully too prevent it from being too lenient. I realize there are some who think this is not possible, but now is the time to lobby for responsible legilation, not after the plants have been approved through a proper review process.