03.07.18

Bipartisan Bill to Promote Collaboration Between Nuclear Industry and National Labs Clears Senate

Legislation to promote development of innovative, carbon-free energy technologies heads to House

Washington, DC – The Senate passed today the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act to increase collaboration between private industry, universities, and national laboratories in developing and bringing to market advanced nuclear technologies.  Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the bill in January of last year.  The legislation now goes to the House for consideration.

“This legislation will help to spark a new generation of nuclear technology.  Our national labs and research universities are doing work that can transform the industry, and may even help remedy some of the big challenges the country faces like managing nuclear waste.  This bill will help industry collaborate with those institutions to bring new technologies forward and compete against polluting forms of energy like coal and natural gas.  Thank you to Senators Crapo, Booker, and the bipartisan group who joined me to push this important legislation through the Senate,” said Whitehouse.

The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to prioritize collaborating with private innovators to test advanced reactor concepts.  The measure authorizes the creation of a National Reactor Innovation Center to bring together the technical expertise of the National Labs and the Energy Department to enable the construction of experimental advanced nuclear reactors.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would partner with the Energy Department in this effort, which would enable the Commission to contribute its expertise on safety issues while also learning about the new technologies developed through the Center.  This measure also would create a new Energy Department cost-sharing program to help the advanced reactors cover pre-licensing fees as they move through the regulatory approval process.

Joining Whitehouse, Crapo, and Booker in sponsoring the Senate bill were Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The bill is the third piece of bipartisan environmental and energy-related legislation sponsored by Whitehouse to clear the Senate in the last several months, along with a bill to promote carbon capture, utilization, and storage and another to combat marine debris.

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