January 14, 2016

Crapo Nuclear Bill Promotes INL Expertise

Bipartisan legislation promotes public-private research partnerships

Washington, D.C.  - The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the nation's lead nuclear research facility, could be working even more closely with private nuclear innovators under bipartisan legislation being introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.  Crapo is the sponsor of the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, which is being introduced as a stand-alone bill but could also be included in a larger energy package in the Senate.  The measure is co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Jim Risch.   Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Cory Booker of New Jersey bring bipartisan support to Crapo's measure.

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities (NEICA) Act requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out a program enabling the testing and demonstration of new reactor concepts proposed by nuclear innovators in the private sector.  As the nation's lead nuclear lab, INL is expected to be home to such a demonstration facility.  The DOE would also report to Congress on the mission need for a versatile neutron source, including fast neutron spectrum irradiation capability; another potential mission for INL researchers. 

NEICA 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.

"The Idaho National Lab will be working directly with the best and brightest research minds in the public and private sector to demonstrate the capabilities of innovations in advanced nuclear concepts," said Crapo.  "This legislation represents an opportunity to build upon the capabilities of the INL while sending a very important message to the private industry.  That message is this:  American entrepreneurs and investors should continue to invest in advanced nuclear technology and they should do it in the United States instead of going overseas. NEICA brings the private sector to leverage the expertise of INL in a technology-neutral way to drive innovation in an otherwise stagnant industry.  This legislation has broad, bipartisan support-as well it should."

Given the push for involvement with the private sector, the legislation does not outline specifics about spending levels.   H.R. 4084 was approved this week by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology.

# # #