Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

The nuclear power plant on Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island, which is scheduled to close on Sept. 30, 2019. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Due to atrophy at home and competition abroad, the U.S. nuclear industry is increasingly at risk of losing power plants, workforce talent and global business.

Why it matters: The civilian and military nuclear sectors depend on one another, and both are strategic assets vital to national security. Nuclear energy also eases the path to decarbonizing the U.S. electric grid.

Context: Prospective employment in the civilian nuclear power sector is a core incentive to academic training and military careers in nuclear energy. This supply chain of expertise is at least as essential as the material inputs.

Where it stands: The U.S. has lost 6 nuclear energy plants since 2013, while 9 more are planned to close in the next decade.

  • Nuclear power faces stiff competition from cheaper fuels like natural gas, solar and wind, while its reliability, resilience and zero-carbon footprint go undervalued.
  • Meanwhile, foreign state-owned nuclear companies can outcompete U.S. firms. Russia and China are building more than 60% of the world’s new nuclear plants, with significant state support.

What’s happening: Some states are incorporating nuclear energy into their clean energy portfolio standards to prevent plant closures. Congress recently passed 2 bills to encourage advanced nuclear technologies and a third was introduced in March.

Yes, but: Stronger legislation could help the industry by incentivizing more innovation and easing the permitting processes.

  • A carbon fee of $15 per ton that increases 5% a year (in real-dollar terms) could support the current fleet and even encourage new plant construction by 2050, according to the Energy Information Agency. A $25 baseline would yield even greater benefits.
  • Small modular reactors and “generation IV” technologies promise to reduce waste, shorten construction times and decrease proliferation and safety risks. These innovations could lower costs but would likely require government investment.

The bottom line: If more of America’s nuclear power plants shutter over the coming decade, the U.S. could see further erosion of both its international influence and the industrial-scientific base critical to future innovation.

The authors are with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, where Randolph Bell is director, Jennifer T. Gordon is deputy director and Robert F. Ichord Jr. is a senior fellow.

Go deeper: Read the Atlantic Council report on the U.S. nuclear industry's strategic challenges.

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.