Very few people know what President Trump accomplished for posterity in his first term. Major accomplishments involved restarting the manned space program and bringing nuclear energy back into development. Trump’s Project Artemis is sending men and women to the Moon to colonize and work there, preparatory to exploration and colonization of Mars. And work for a nuclear power renaissance which began in Trump’s first term is now beginning to bear fruit.
These future-building policies harken back to the economic policies of all great presidents: George Washington’s roads, canals, dams, and other internal improvements along with his emphasis on fundamental scientific breakthroughs, new discoveries and inventions; Lincoln’s transcontinental railroad and devotion to in-depth advanced manufacturing; FDR’s great infrastructure projects; JFK’s Moon shot. This type of physical economic investment results in discoveries of new scientific and technological advances which can power an expanding future economy.
In LaRouche PAC’s Project Prometheus, we outline some of the key requirements necessary to fulfill Donald Trump's call for the "Quantum Leap” in American incomes he outlined in his Agenda 47. As opposed to Joe Biden’s Green and drug-driven austerity culture presently strangling our economy and killing our people, the first condition for an economy which can sustain itself and grow involves advanced energy sources. As my colleague Brian Lantz has written, we need on the order of 700 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear power to power an economy capable of sustaining one-job families and similar metrics of population growth and generalized prosperity. The United States currently has 92 operable nuclear reactors, with a combined net capacity of 94.7 GWE. In 2021 nuclear power generated 5.3% of the country's electricity.
The First New U.S. Nuclear Reactor in 7 Years Has Started Up
The Vogtle nuclear reactor Unit 3, in Georgia, began supplying electricity to the grid on April 1st and is expected to be fully in service in May or June. Seven years ago, in 2016, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) started splitting atoms at the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor in Tennessee. Vogtle Unit 3 is the first truly new reactor design in the United States since 1996, when the Tennessee Watts Bar Unit 1 was completed. The Vogtle project uses Westinghouse AP1000 units with advanced pressurized water reactor technology. Vogtle Unit 4 is scheduled to be completed in late 2023.The two new Voglte units will provide electricity to half-a-million homes and businesses in Georgia.
On June 29, 2017, President Trump announced an initiative to revive and expand the nuclear energy sector and directed a complete review of United States nuclear energy policy to help find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource. In addition to investing in the completion of the Vogtle Georgia project, the first Trump administration accelerated the program for advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). In 2020, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of two US-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The ARDP was designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors. The initial round of funding was awarded through DOE's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to TerraPower and to GE Hitachi for its Natrium project. Each recipient received $80 million. Trump’s DOE sought to invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years for advanced reactor demonstration projects. Congress has since continued to pass a series of bills supporting the development of advanced nuclear reactor designs. NASA is also developing specialized reactors for propelling spacecraft and supplying power on the surface of the Moon.
The Artemis space exploration program was always linked by Trump to his plans for advanced nuclear development. On April 20, 2019, President Trump signed National Security Presidential Memorandum 2, entitled "Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems," calling for development and use of space nuclear systems to enable or enhance space exploration and operational capabilities.
On January 12, 2021, President Trump signed an "Executive Order On Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration." At the signing Trump stated that"Nuclear Power is Central to United States National Security. . . . That is why I have taken a series of actions to promote its development and facilitate its use. . . . The purpose of this order is to take an important additional step to revitalize the United States nuclear energy sector, reinvigorate America’s space exploration program, and develop diverse energy options for national defense needs. Under this action, the United States Government will coordinate its nuclear activities to apply the benefits of nuclear energy most effectively toward American technology supremacy, including the use of small modular reactors for national defense and space exploration. This work is critical to advancing my Administration’s priorities for the United States to lead in research, technology, invention, innovation, and advanced technology development; its mission to promote and protect the United States national security innovation base; its drive to secure energy dominance; and its commitment to achieving all of these goals in a manner consistent with the highest nuclear nonproliferation standards."
In 2020, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn was one of 22 sponsors of an Act first put forth during the first Trump administration, The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act. According to the bill's Summary, "This bill addresses nuclear energy innovation. The bill directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to (1) establish a long-term nuclear power purchase agreement pilot program; (2) advance the research and development of domestic advanced, affordable, and clean nuclear energy; (3) develop a 10-year strategic plan for its Office of Nuclear Energy; (4) provide for a versatile, reactor-based fast neutron source; (5) establish a program to make available high-assay, low-enriched uranium for use in commercial or noncommercial advanced nuclear reactors; and (6) provide competitive grants to develop the capability to transport high-assay, low enriched uranium."
The TVA’s Lead Role in Advanced Nuclear Development
The Tennessee Valley Authority obtained the first site permit in the country to build small modular nuclear reactors on the Clinch River near Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It partnered with Ontario Power Generation to develop the GE Hitachi SMR Design. GE Hitachi anticipates a total investment of $400 million in the project. In a bold and visionary February address, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that he wants Tennessee to become the nation's leader in developing the next generation of nuclear power. He announced a plan to include $50 million in his fiscal 2024 budget to provide grants and assistance for nuclear power-related businesses that relocate or grow in Tennessee. He declared that his Nuclear Fast Track fund will "recruit companies to our state that will specifically establish a nuclear development and manufacturing ecosystem built for the future of Tennessee."
Oak Ridge in East Tennessee was, of course, one of the primary locations for the top secret atomic weapons program which began in 1942. Tennessee was home to several massive Manhattan Project facilities which employed thousands of workers during and after World War II.
Governor Lee reiterated: "In the state where the power of the atom was first harnessed at the ‘secret city’ built on the Oak Ridge reservation during World War II, another generation of nuclear power that is cleaner and more flexible should be developed."
Last year a site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee was chosen for a $300 million advanced nuclear fabrication lab, the first commercial High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU)-based fuel fabrication facility in the country. The TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility is expected to start up as soon as 2025. The plant is being designed to produce eight tons of fuel per year—reported to be enough to support 12 Small Modular Reactors.
Congressman Chuck Fleishman (R) of Tennessee's 3rd Congressional district, represents Oak Ridge and supports President Trump. While praising the Administration’s 2024 budget request insofar as it increases funding for uranium processing facilities, he has been critical of that budget’s “clean energy and climate change” goals, and its 12% cut in the nuclear program. A press release posted on his site notes: "Throughout my tenure in Congress, I am proud to have become the leading House Republican advocating for increasing nuclear research, cleaning up legacy sites, and supporting our National Labs. East Tennessee, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are leading our nation in advanced scientific research, supercomputing, and nuclear technologies. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the full [Energy and Commerce] committee and the Energy Subcommittee to continue support for nuclear energy and research, all 17 of our National Labs, and ensuring America is energy secure for future generations."
The recent announcement of the selection of the four astronauts to fly around the Moon for the first time in over 50 years—on the Artemis II Orion Spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket— paves the way for new lunar landings and building of lunar infrastructure. The industrialization and utilization of the resources of the Moon will depend upon the next giant leap of nuclear power advancement. Once we get to the Moon, we can mine Helium 3, the ideal fuel for the next leap forward in dense power production: fusion power. Clearly, Donald Trump’s optimistic map for our future deserves more than study. He fully deserves a second term to complete his construction of this bold path to the future. His supporters must understand that his upending of the cultural pessimism and death-cult paradigm installed by the present regime is what drives that regime’s hatred of him.