Clean Nuclear Energy, Research Advanced in Bipartisan Senate Bill


Date: Jan. 22, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

Private-sector innovators in nuclear energy and government researchers will work hand-in-hand to create the next generation of clean, advanced nuclear power, under bi-partisan legislation introduced today in the U.S. Senate.
Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA). The legislation, S. 2461, directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize partnering with private innovators on new reactor technologies and the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would report to Congress on any barriers that would prohibit the licensing of new reactors within a four-year time period.

"There is bipartisan agreement in the Congress that nuclear energy and nuclear research have been underutilized as a reliable, safe, clean and efficient part of our national energy portfolio," said Crapo. "We are working to eliminate barriers to innovation within the private sector and strengthening collaboration with our national labs to maintain American preeminence in nuclear energy."

"Long-term energy stability will require creative solutions," said Whitehouse. "That's why Democrats and Republicans are working together to help spark the development of our next generation of advanced nuclear reactors. Collaboration across the private sector, academia, and the federal government is crucial to the successful testing, developing, and licensing of these advanced reactor concepts. Bringing these technologies online will help move us away from the carbon-intensive energy driving global climate change and potentially provide a solution to the management of hazardous nuclear waste."

"America's commitment to an "all-of-the-above' energy strategy requires that we pursue clean nuclear energy that provides the needed base load power for our homes and businesses," said Risch. "Idaho's history in advanced nuclear technology and the INL's position as the nation's preeminent nuclear energy research lab makes us a natural leader in this public-private endeavor, and this legislation will do great things to encourage research and partnerships that lead to the next generation of reactors."

"Whether your priority is addressing the threat of climate change or ensuring greater American energy independence, the United States needs to promote new energy technologies that are safe, clean, and sustainable," said Booker. "This bipartisan bill will promote public-private partnerships and help accelerate innovation that will enable advanced nuclear energy to play an important role as we transition to a carbon-free energy future."

"This critical legislation will help keep the United States at the forefront of advanced nuclear technology," said Hatch. "It would help encourage new domestic investments in the nuclear industry and incentivize robust public-private partnerships in developing advanced reactors."

This measure will strengthen the abilities of national laboratories to partner with private industry to prove the principles behind their ideas. Specially, the Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Argonne National Laboratory are expected to benefit from NEICA. The NEICA legislation also has a companion bill in the U.S. House. Representatives Randy Weber (R-Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) saw their version of the bill clear the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.