Nuclear: the recovery law definitively adopted in Parliament

The revival is now well under way. To facilitate the construction of six new reactors, Parliament definitively adopted the nuclear revival bill on Tuesday, by a final vote of the National embly, where the cause of the atom is gaining ground. A week after broad support from the Senate, the deputies voted for the text by 399 votes to 100, with a coalition of votes from the presidential camp, LR, RN and communists. Only the environmental and rebellious groups (LFI) voted against. The PS, which opposed the text at first reading, abstained this time, after describing nuclear power as a “transition energy” towards renewables.

✅ Final adoption of the #PJLNuclear.

As with renewable energies, we have been able to build a majority of projects to prepare the relaunch of our policy #nuclear.

With always the same objective: to be the 1st great Nation to get out of fossil fuels!

— Agnes Pannier-Runacher 🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@AgnesRunacher) May 16, 2023

The Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher boasts of a “major text” to “produce independent, competitive and carbon-free energy”, and calls for a “political consensus” in energy matters. In the morning, she had brought together in Paris about fifteen representatives of pro-nuclear European countries, in order to weigh in on the “energy strategy” of the European Union.

speed pick up

Technical, the French bill simplifies the steps in order to concretize Emmanuel Macron’s ambition to build six new EPR reactors by 2035, and to launch studies for eight others. It concerns new facilities located in existing nuclear sites or nearby, such as Penly (Seine-Maritime), or Gravelines (Nord).

In the wake of the Senate, parliamentarians lifted a lock introduced in 2015 under François Hollande, and already modified under Emmanuel Macron. The text thus removes the objective of a 50% reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the French electricity mix by 2035 (initially 2025), just like the ceiling of 63.2 gigawatts of total capacity of licensed nuclear production.

To the chagrin of opponents of nuclear power, he is speeding up the future multi-annual energy programming law, expected at best this summer. “Everything was done out of order. (…) Only this programming law could decide whether or not to relaunch nuclear power”, was indignant the Insoumis Maxime Laisney. The NGO Greenpeace and the Sortir du Nucléaire network did not fail to protest: “the government is therefore putting the cart before the horse and is launching a forced march of recovery”, they denounce.

“Cultural Battle”

Another sensitive point, the text toughens the penalties in the event of intrusion into the power stations, with a penalty increased to one to two years in prison and a fine of 15,000 to 30,000 euros. As expected, parliamentarians have also not reintroduced the controversial reform of nuclear safety wanted by the government. But the executive still considers it necessary to melt the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)technical expert, within the Nuclear safety authority (ASN), the policeman of the power stations, in spite of the protests of the trade unions.

In the embly, environmentalists and LFI railed against the bill, insisting on the “tons of waste” from nuclear power, and on the major on an emergency circuit of a Penly reactor, announced in early March. Rebellious and Greens, who campaign for an exit from the atom in favor of renewable energies, promise an appeal to the Constitutional Council. But twelve years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, environmentalists recognize that they have lost ground in their “cultural battle” against nuclear power, as polls show growing support.

In the embly, a parliamentary commission of inquiry led by the LR Raphaël Schellenberger and the macronist Antoine Armand, openly nuclear pros, pointed to a “political rambling” for thirty years on energy issues. Faced with the climate emergency, and after fears of power cuts this winter against a backdrop of war in Ukraine, “we must no longer have shameful nuclear power”, pleads Renaissance MP Maud Bregeon, former EDF and rapporteur for the project. of law.

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