Congressional Research Service. September 19, 2013.
After nearly 30 years in which no new orders had been placed for nuclear power plants in the United States, a series of license applications that began in 2007 prompted widespread speculation about a U.S. “nuclear renaissance.” The renewed interest in nuclear power largely resulted from the improved performance of existing reactors, federal incentives in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), the possibility of carbon dioxide controls that could increase costs at fossil fuel plants, and volatile prices for natural gas—the favored fuel for new power plants for the past two decades. Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33558.pdf [PDF format, 39 pages].
Congressional Research Service. September 17, 2013.
As estimates for the amount of U.S. natural gas resources have grown, so have the prospects of rising U.S. natural gas exports. The United States is expected to go from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter by 2020. The possibility of a significant increase in U.S. natural gas exports will factor into ongoing debates on the economy, energy independence, climate change, and energy security. As the proposed projects continue to develop, policymakers are likely to receive more inquiries about these projects.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42074.pdf [PDF format, 31 pages].
U.S. Department of Energy. July 2013.
Since the start of the 20th century, average annual temperatures across the contiguous United States have increased approximately 1.5°F (0.8°C). These trends, which are expected to continue, could restrict the supply of secure, sustainable, and affordable energy critical to the nation’s economic growth. At least three major climate trends are relevant to the energy sector: Increasing air and water temperatures; Decreasing water availability in some regions and seasons; and Increasing intensity and frequency of storm events, flooding, and sea level rise. This report examines current and potential future impacts of these climate trends on the U.S. energy sector. It identifies activities underway to address these challenges and discusses potential opportunities to enhance energy technologies that are more climate-resilient, as well as information, stakeholder engagement, and policies and strategies to further enable their deployment.
Congressional Research Service. May 30, 2013.
Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources. Implementing these programs has been controversial because of varying importance given to different aspects of energy policy. For some, dependence on imports of foreign oil, particularly from the Persian Gulf, is the primary concern; for others, the indiscriminate use of fossil fuels, whatever their origin, is most important. The contribution of burning fossil fuels to global climate change is particularly controversial. Another dichotomy is between those who see government intervention as a positive force and those who view it as a necessary evil at best.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42756.pdf [PDF format, 11 pages].
Center for Strategic & International Peace. January 3, 2013.
U.S. “independence” from energy imports has been a key source of political dispute ever since the October War in 1973 and the Arab oil embargo that followed. Much of this debate has ignored or misstated the nature of the data available on what the U.S. options are, as well as the uncertainties involved in making any long range projections. This situation has become more critical during the last year as it becomes increasingly apparent that the U.S. has far more commercially exploitable oil and gas reserves than most previous estimates have indicated. Some estimates go so far as to project the U.S. could actually become an energy exporter in the future. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
http://csis.org/files/publication/130103_us_energy_independence_report.pdf [PDF format, 15 pages].