SAVANNAH, Ga. — Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced Friday that the Trump administration has finalized $3.7 billion in new loan guarantees to support completion of the first new U.S. commercial nuclear reactors in a generation, calling the expansion of nuclear energy “the real” Green New Deal.

The expansion of Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia has fallen years behind schedule while its price tag has nearly doubled since the government approved two new reactors at the plant in 2012.

But Perry said the administration is determined to see the project finished despite the setbacks. He spoke Friday from the construction site in Waynesboro as a crane lowered a giant dome atop the containment building for housing one of the new reactors.

“The message that gets sent on this plant: America is back in the nuclear energy industry, folks,” Perry told a crowd of workers in hardhats.

President Trump has singled out both the country’s nuclear and coal industries for support from his administration, although the more politically influential coal sector has gotten most of the regulatory breaks so far.

The Green New Deal pushed by some Democrats has served to boost interest in nuclear power, which doesn’t emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. But Democrats are divided over whether nuclear energy is a valid replacement for fossil fuels.

The new financial support brings to $12 billion the government’s total loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle, with the initial assistance approved under President Barack Obama. The guarantees make the federal government responsible for covering unpaid debt if the electrical utilities in charge of the project default.

The first reactor is scheduled for completion in late 2021, the second in 2022.


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