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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fizzling the plutonium economy: Origins of the April 1977 Carter Administration fuel cycle policy transition
by Williams, Peter, A.L.M., Harvard University, 2010, 331; 1477873
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the scientific advocacy that shaped President Carter's April 1977 policy decision to block the domestic implementation of so-called "plutonium economy" technologies, and thereby mandate the use of an "open" or "once-through" fuel cycle for U.S. nuclear power reactors. This policy transition was controversial, causing friction with U.S. allies, with the nuclear power industry, and with Congress. Early in his presidential campaign, Carter criticized the excessive federal financial commitment to developing plutonium-based reactors and adopted the view that the weapons proliferation risks of plutonium economy technologies were serious and needed to be addressed. President Carter announced his intention to implement these policy views through statements in April 1977 that defined his administration's policy to forgo so-called "plutonium economy" technologies. This study traces the origins of President Carter's once-through fuel cycle policy via a close analysis of the networks that channeled policy advice on this matter to Carter. A key finding is that Carter's opposition to the plutonium economy technology program represented a purposefully nuanced compromise within the larger context of his nuclear power and national energy policies. While Carter was very much the author of this position, key scientific advocacy efforts framed the policy debate and reinforced his confidence in the technical, economic, and diplomatic feasibility of his fuel cycle policy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mendelsohn, Everett I.
School: Harvard University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: MAI 48/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Public policy, Energy
Keywords: Breeder, Carter, Lmfbr, Nuclear, Plutonium, Rickover
Publication Number: 1477873
ISBN: 978-1-124-06525-0
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