The dirty little secret of the much-ballyhooed, but non-existent "nuclear renaissance" just happens to be big and clean -- the growth of domestic clean energy production, that is.
Buried in a report issued by the U.S. Energy Information Administration are these facts: domestic production of renewable energy has now surpassed nuclear energy, and is swiftly gaining on oil. In their "Monthly Energy Review" released last week, the EIA said that in the first quarter of 2011, total domestic production of renewable energy (2.245 quadrillion BTUs of wind, solar, water, geothermal, biomass/biofuels) outpaced domestic production of nuclear energy (2.125 quadrillion BTUs). The report also notes that renewable energy is now more than three-quarters of the way to being tied with oil in domestic energy production, and gaining quickly in total energy shares.
The report comes after years of nuclear energy boosters continually suggesting that a "nuclear renaissance" was just around the corner, and fossil fuel advocates contesting that renewable energy could never compete with oil and other traditional fossil fuels.
"The real energy renaissance happening in America is from the flourishing of renewable energy," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. "We should choose to be enlightened by this growing energy sector, not allow Republicans and the nuclear and fossil fuel special interests to keep us in the dark ages of dangerous and dirty fuels."
The report comes ahead of a week when House Republicans will put a 2012 energy spending bills to a vote in the House of Representatives that prescribes devastating cuts to clean energy while actually increasing investments in coal, natural gas, nuclear, and other traditional technologies. The bill falls nearly $1.9 billion below the president's request for investments in energy efficiency, advanced technology vehicles, and renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass. That is a 40 percent cut below current funding levels. At the same time, investments in nuclear and fossil energy are increased in the legislation by $8 million and $32 million, respectively.
"Today, America produces more renewable energy than it does nuclear energy. In the near future, we will produce more renewable energy than oil," said Rep. Markey. "Only reckless Republican spending bills that further prop up favored industries at the expense of clean energy could interrupt this inevitable march towards a renewable energy-powered future."