Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved overwhelmingly legislation, introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) that would increase collaboration among private industry, universities, and national laboratories to facilitate the development of advanced nuclear technologies. The vote of 87 to 4 to approve the amendment makes it a part of a larger energy policy reform bill before the Senate.
The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), 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. Under the agreement today, 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. The measure is cosponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).
“This vote demonstrates the commitment in the Senate to a long-term future for nuclear power production and research opportunities,” Crapo said. “This vote recognizes the many contributions to technology and research from the experts at the INL and our other partner national laboratories. It demonstrates that, despite some of the government-caused challenges faced by the current fleet of reactors, nuclear energy is a vital part of a national, varied, approach to energy production.”
“As the Senate works to craft modern, competitive national energy policy, this amendment will help spark the development of our next generation of nuclear capacity,” said Whitehouse. “I’m grateful to Senator Crapo and our Republican and Democratic colleagues for taking this step to bring advanced nuclear technologies online to 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.”
“Including clean nuclear energy as part of our nation’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is a no-brainer,” 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. I’m glad to see so many of my Senate colleagues agree that this legislation can and will do great things to encourage research and partnerships that lead to the next generation of reactors.”
“Nuclear energy has an important role to play as we transition to a carbon-free energy future. This amendment will help drive investment, remove bureaucratic barriers, and allow our entrepreneurs and businesses to unleash the promise of advanced nuclear technologies,” said Booker.
“I am pleased to join this bipartisan group in supporting nuclear energy development, which is crucial to our economy,” Senator Hatch said. “This amendment will help keep the United States at the forefront of advanced nuclear technology and will signal to the private sector that the U.S. government is committed to a future of enduring nuclear energy development.”
«Nuclear energy is a proven, clean, reliable and affordable form of energy, capable of providing for the demands of a rapidly growing population. Illinois’ own Argonne National Laboratory leads the nation in nuclear expertise and stands ready to contribute to the next generation of American nuclear energy,” said Senator Kirk.
“My home state of Illinois ranks first in nuclear power generation and accounts for one-tenth of the nuclear power generated in our country. So I know from experience the potential of nuclear power to change our energy future. But this future can only be realized if we invest in collaborative partnerships to build on the innovative research already being done across the country in places like Argonne National Laboratory,” said Durbin.
The Senate continues debating S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Bill, which now includes this bipartisan amendment.