April 18, 2016

Crapo Nuclear Bill Provides Path to Commercial Market for INL Research

Reforms Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Will Be Considered in Committee on April 21

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the nation's leading nuclear energy lab, providing the scientific support needed to further the development of advanced nuclear technologies.  To support that mission, and the work of research nationwide, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, along with three other senators, has introduced a bill that enables the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to license advanced nuclear reactors. 

The measure, S. 2795, The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), directs NRC to develop a framework to license a diverse set of advanced reactor technologies being developed in both the private and public sectors.  The measure ensures that the Commission is able to review the safety and security of these reactors, even though some may have different performance features and characteristics.  It will also modernize the commission's budget and fee structure to improve transparency and accountability.  

"There is bipartisan agreement that using more nuclear energy must be part of any forward-looking domestic energy portfolio," Crapo said. "This legislation will ensure that the work being done at Idaho's National Lab has a path through the NRC and on to the commercial market.  NEIMA also  pushes the NRC to modernize so that it has the ability to license advanced reactors in a safe, timely and transparent manner.  It will bring more openness and accountability to the NRC's budget and fees, which will help stakeholders in-and-out of government better understand what the commission is doing with its resources."

Senator Crapo's introduction of NEIMA compliments a bill he introduced earlier this year, S.2461, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out a program allowing for the testing and demonstration of new reactor concepts proposed by nuclear innovators in the private sector at public sector labs such as INL.

"Together, these two measures ensure that promising innovations can continue receiving technical support and move quickly toward the commercial market," added Crapo.  "These measures compliment the work being done at INL.  I look forward to watching INL help these companies prove the science behind their work.  Once the science is sound, the companies can use the processes created by NEIMA to obtain license and operate these technologies.  It is exciting to be a part of process that enables the work done at INL to have broader reaching impacts. 

The bill will be considered by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), of which Crapo is a member, on Thursday, April 21.  It is also sponsored by EPW  Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK), and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and the full text may be viewed here.

To view a section by section summary, click here.


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