Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

NRE 8011/8012 and MP 6011/6012 Seminar

Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Programs


Nuclear Policy in an Era of Tight Budgets, Political Polarization, and Cheap Natural Gas


Dr. Lara Pierpoint


Department of Energy


Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Dr. Anna Erickson


The nuclear industry remains one of the most highly regulated in the energy sector, and the connection between civilian nuclear power systems and national security issues means policy will always play a strong role in nuclear development. This talk will outline current policy initiatives and their prospects at DOE and in Congress, and will include a discussion of recent nuclear industry analysis conducted at DOE. Specific issues to be highlighted include:

- Inexpensive natural gas and low electricity demand are placing stress on the nuclear industry, and tight Federal budgets and a polarized atmosphere limit prospects for government intervention in existing and developing nuclear technologies.

- While the momentum behind new nuclear waste legislation may be slowing, efforts to readdress repository siting processes have achieved progress.

- DOE is strongly engaged in efforts to advance Small Modular Reactor technology.


Lara Pierpoint is a Special Advisor in the Department of Energy Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. She works on a range of nuclear policy issues as well as on systems integration and analysis for the first Quadrennial Energy Review. Prior to joining DOE, Lara was the AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Her portfolio included nuclear power and waste management, energy efficiency, energy storage, and clean energy finance. She completed a postdoc at the MIT Energy Initiative in July 2012, during which she studied the effectiveness of loan guarantees at promoting energy deployment. She received her PhD in 2011 from MIT in Engineering Systems, focusing on advanced technologies for nuclear waste recycling, and she holds dual masters degrees from MIT in nuclear engineering and technology policy. She is a native Californian, and completed her B.S. in physics at UCLA in 2004.