Nuclear Energy

PDF versionPDF version

Nuclear energy is produced from fission, which splits the large atoms of heavy elements like uranium into smaller atoms, releasing enormous amounts of energy. Thirty U.S. states have nuclear power plants, and nuclear energy makes up around 20% of the U.S. electricity supply.


Nuclear reactors and cooling towers at the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station south of Shickshinny, Pennsylvania. Image Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear energy is released from the fission of heavy elements like uranium, a weakly radioactive metal found around the world. Fission splits large atoms into smaller atoms, releasing enormous amounts of energy. During electricity generation, the process of fission emits only water vapor but leaves behind spent fuel, which remains highly radioactive. Milling uranium, processing uranium into nuclear fuel, and operating nuclear power plants all create various types of nuclear waste, both low-level and high-level.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
June 12, 2018 The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a formal oversight hearing for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 12, 2018, with all five commissioners present for the first time in a decade. FERC is responsible for regulating the interstate transmission...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
May 10, 2018 On May 10, the House passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018 (H.R. 3053) by a vote of 340 to 72, despite strong opposition from the New Mexico and Nevada delegations. The bill would resume and expedite licensing for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository...
Power lines. Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy
January 23, 2018 The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on January 23 that underscored concerns surrounding the reliability and resiliency of the electrical power system, particularly under certain weather conditions, such as the deep freeze or bomb cyclone that the U.S....
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
January 8, 2018 On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) rejected a proposal that was submitted by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in September 2017 to subsidize the operating costs of coal and nuclear power plants, since the rule did not satisfy certain statutory standards....
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
July 26, 2016 The Council of State Governments’ (CGS) Southern and Midwestern Legislative Conferences hosted a webinar to explore nuclear waste storage solutions. This webinar, the second of a two-part series, highlighted actions the federal government and private sector are currently taking to...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
July 7, 2016 The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing led by Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) to gather information in order to move forward with federal licensing of a nuclear waste...
Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
January 12, 2016 The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has voted to approve the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (H.R. 4084), legislation aimed at increasing nuclear research within the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill would authorize DOE national laboratories to...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

2000, Kansas Geological Survey
This report will examine the history, current status, and future of energy in Kansas. Total energy consumption continues to grow in Kansas. However, Kansas is more energy efficient than 20 years ago. In 1998, 70% less energy was required per dollar of gross state product than it was in 1977. Growth...
2010, United States Geological Survey
Energy resources are an essential component of modern society. Adequate, reliable, and affordable energy supplies obtained using environmentally sustainable practices underpin economic prosperity, environmental quality and human health, and political stability. National and global demands for all...
2011, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2010, Kansas Geological Survey
Welcome to the 2010 Field Conference, cosponsored by the Kansas Geological Survey (a division of the University of Kansas), the Kansas Water Office, the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Previous Field Conferences have focused on specific topics,...
1981, Delaware Geological Survey
This report was prepared to provide a simple but comprehensive overview of programs and concepts of highly radioactive waste disposal. This report is not based on original research, but was prepared from data and information reported in voluminous publications of the U.S. Department of Energy, the...
1997, Illinois State Geological Survey
Illinois coal sales declined from 60 million tons in 1990 to less than 50 million tons in 1995, and the Industrial Minerals and Resource Economics Section of the Illinois State Geological Survey projects them to decline to the range of 26 to 40 million tons by 2010. Public policies, particularly...
2012, Utah Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2016, Wyoming State Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2015, Wyoming State Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2003, Oklahoma Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------