U.S. CO2 Emissions Rise As Nuclear Power Plants Close

Closing perfectly good nuclear power plants decades ahead of schedule is a bad idea if you care about the environment, especially if you care about carbon emissions. That’s because nuclear is the best source of low-carbon energy and actually produces most of our low-carbon electricity, over 800 billion kWhs – twice as much as all renewables combined. And twice as much as hydro.

More importantly, the U.S. nuclear fleet avoided 547 million metric tons of CO2 in 2017, similar to most years. At the same time, hydro only avoided 203 million metric tons, wind 176 million metric tons, solar 37 million metric tons, and everything else less then 15 million.

Since the U.S. emits about 1,900 million metric tons of CO2 from fossil fuels that generate electricity, nuclear is the most effective tool we have to decrease or avoid emissions.

. . . U.S. carbon emissions rose in 2018 by over 60 million tons of CO2. Closing those nuclear plants, building new gas plants, increasing manufacturing and construction, and increasing gasoline/diesel/jet fuel demand are the reasons for this rise. Increased renewables have not been able to keep up with any one of these effects.

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