Last week the U.S. Senate approved legislation written by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo that would increase nuclear research efforts at the Idaho National Laboratory and other national labs through new partnerships between the public and private sectors. 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 legislation, S. 2461, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA) 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.
“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 issues related to waste disposal which Congress can solve, nuclear energy is a vital part of a national, varied, approach to energy production.”
The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act is the Senate companion to the House measure of the same name, H.R. 4084, offered by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Randy Weber (R-Texas). Senator Crapo’s measure builds upon the House companion to incorporate the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Crapo’s legislation is cosponsored by fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and with Sens. Hatch, (R-UT), Kirk (R-IL), Booker (D-NJ), and Whitehouse (D-RI).