Faced with unfavorable economic conditions rooted in competition from natural gas, many utilities with nuclear power plants have raised the prospect of closing dozens of them over the next several years.
Doing so would have significant consequences for the economy, power grids and those aspects are under serious debate — especially about whether taxpayers in many states, including Pennsylvania, should subsidize plants.
Environmental consequences have gotten less attention but that also is a major issue.
Because the United States has failed to develop a permanent repository for nuclear waste, it typically is stored in holding ponds on the grounds of most nuclear power plants.
In budget hearings last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry requested $128 million to restart development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.