“If there are limits to be set, it is on fossil fuels,” Maud Bregeon, rapporteur for the nuclear acceleration bill

Maud Bregeon (Renaissance, Hauts-de-Seine) is the rapporteur for the bill on accelerating procedures for constructing new nuclear facilities, which is currently being debated in the Commission before it goes to the National Assembly. According to her, the majority is very ambitious on nuclear power, with fossil fuels as its only enemy.
What are the expected gains of the nuclear bill for the EPR 2 program?

The main objective is to reduce the time between the decision to build the future reactors and the start of construction by allowing the first work outside the nuclear islands to be carried out before the phase as soon as the environmental authorization is obtained.

In the same way, exemptions from the coastal law will facilitate the construction of many facilities, such as connection works. With this law, we should be able to start the first operations at the end of 2024.

On a more political level, the National Assembly has voted to remove the 50% cap on nuclear power in the electricity mix and to limit the installed capacity to 63GW by 2035. This sends a strong signal to the French people and the nuclear industry: the majority is fully committed to its nuclear ambitions, in line with the policy set out by the President of the Republic. In short, Parliament is fully implementing the Belfort speech.

Does the bill represent favoritism for nuclear power over other energies?

Regarding energy, we have only one enemy: fossil fuels, which represent 60% of the final energy consumed in France. At the same time, we are the only political family that never pits decarbonized energies against each other.

The law for the acceleration of renewable energies adopted on February 7, 2009, is in line with this, with provisions aimed at simplifying environmental procedures, such as a presumption of recognition of the imperative reason of significant public interest, but also measures to mobilize land more easily for wind and solar projects.

These two bills are complementary and will allow us to increase significantly, over the long term, our production of decarbonized energy.

The law was introduced and passed in the Senate during the EPR2 public debate. Didn’t this pose a problem?

Holding these debates, which I believe necessary, does not override the legitimacy of Parliament to debate and legislate. At the same time, the French people are entitled to expect the CNDP (Commission Nationale du débat public, editor’s note) to organize impartial and constructive debates. Given how some of these exchanges have been conducted, difficulties can be observed. In the same way, one can question the interest of officially inviting a representative of an anti-nuclear association to present its work while putting it on the same level as that of RTE. The need for debate does not mean that all statements and studies are equal, and I believe that rigorous fact-checking is necessary to accompany these democratic exercises.

I hear the opposition to the provisions voted in the Senate, but did they justify interrupting the EPR2 public debate? With this decision, the discussions on the cost and financing, as well as those on the climatic and geopolitical uncertainties, have yet to occur. Nor have those on climatic and geopolitical uncertainties. The risk is to discredit this necessary moment in the eyes of all, whether in favor of this project, against it, or simply looking for information.

We must now move forward and learn from the experience of what has gone well since the beginning of the debates on October 27 to improve in the future. This democratic exercise must continue. I am very attached to it.

Following the senators’ amendment, is this the end of the nuclear cap in France?

Yes, this deletion was voted on in the Assembly’s Economic Affairs Committee on Thursday, March 2. Our determination to relaunch the industry could not be clearer. I would add that setting numerical targets for the distribution of low-carbon energies in the electricity mix does not seem to be the right way to manage it. If there are limits to be set, it is for fossil fuels. Moreover, counting production in percentages needs to be clarified. This leads everyone to rely on ideological logic, whereas it is first and foremost the needs and the means to achieve them that should guide us.

The objective of carbon neutrality and security of supply and energy sovereignty are much more important factors to consider when planning energy policy and the production capacities to be developed. The removal of the 50% cap on nuclear power in the electricity mix is, therefore, a measure that will be perpetuated without limit in time, as is the removal of the cap on installed capacity, a tool designed to force EDF to shut down the Fessenheim plant. ■

Interview by Ludovic Dupin and Thomas Jaquemet (Sfen)