Letter to the Editor: Western Kentucky keeps the lights on

November 14, 2023 | 12:07 am

Updated November 13, 2023 | 11:53 pm

I am proud to represent some of our nation’s most dedicated workers who live here in Western Kentucky. For generations, Western Kentuckians have woken up before sunrise and returned home well after sunset, working hard in coal mines and at power plants to keep our energy grid powered with American-made energy. 

Unfortunately, due to President Obama’s, and now President Biden’s, War on Coal, coal production has been declining dramatically for well over a decade and has forced many coal-fired power plants to close, eliminating good-paying jobs in the process. This has caused ripple effects throughout our communities, the entire Commonwealth, and our nation.

One avenue to solve this problem is building nuclear plants where coal-fired plants once operated. This approach adapts existing infrastructure to attract innovative new energy sources, shore up our grid reliability, and ensure American energy independence. This proposal focuses on expanding brownfield sites which are properties that are underutilized, often due to former industrial use, as a center point for attracting new energy sources to our Commonwealth. 

I recently introduced the Nuclear for Brownfields Site Preparation Act which would direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to identify and report on the regulations, guidance, or policy necessary to license and allow nuclear facilities at brownfield sites as well as other sites with retired fossil fuel facilities.

Currently, the key obstacle facing brownfield site redevelopment is the burdensome federal regulation process. Permitting and licensing these brownfield sites for nuclear power can be highly bureaucratic, ultimately taking 10 years or longer to complete the permitting process and build the plant. These regulations prevent investments in our communities and reduce our energy independence. My bill will help these issues by streamlining the process. 

My bill would also require the NRC to develop and implement strategies to enable and support licensing of nuclear facilities, taking into consideration existing emergency planning, environmental data and reviews, decontamination and remediation, community engagement, and historical experience with energy use at the sites.  Additionally, the NRC would have to consider to consider how existing infrastructure can be reused and standardize applications for similar sites for licensing purposes. 

The radical solutions proposed in the Democrats’ “Green New Deal” are not the answer to our future energy concerns. I am committed to making sure we have affordable, reliable energy from a diverse energy portfolio, and Kentucky should continue leading our nation in power production.  

Streamlining the nuclear energy production process will empower Western Kentucky communities that have powered our nation for generations, with good-paying energy jobs that will keep the lights on across our Commonwealth and our country for years to come. 

I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and our local leaders to adapt and overcome Democrats’ far-left policies to use our greatest resource, our energy workers, by putting them at the forefront of new technologies that will power our nation! 

Written by
U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie

November 14, 2023 | 12:07 am

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