April 20, 2016

Crapo Nuclear Energy Bill Passes Senate in Energy Package

Crapo Secures Provision Strengthening Public-Private Nuclear Research; Fish Habitat Preservation

WASHINGTON - The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will benefit from new public-private nuclear research partnerships thanks to legislative language secured by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo in a broad, comprehensive energy bill passed today by the United States Senate.  The language, benefitting Idaho and other national labs, is part of S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.

The provision, known as the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to partner with private innovators to develop and test concepts behind advanced reactor technologies.  The DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission are directed to work together to establish the National Nuclear Innovation Center, a facility Crapo envisions being based at INL.  Crapo originally introduced the legislation along with Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-Rhode Island), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

"The Senate voted to adopt NEICA as amendment to the overall energy reform bill by a vote of 87-4.  This overwhelmingly bipartisan vote affirms the importance of nuclear research and power production as part of our domestic energy portfolio," said Crapo.  "This vote also pays tribute to the value of the talented men and women working at INL and other national labs.  Their expertise will be critical in helping advanced technologies develop and move toward the marketplace."

NEICA's passage by the United States Senate is one of two bills introduced by Crapo to encourage investment and advancement in the nuclear industry.  The second bill, S. 2795, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop an appropriate regulatory framework for licensing a diverse set of advanced nuclear reactor technologies.  NEIMA also ensures that the commission is able to review the safety and security of all future advanced reactors, which are technologically diverse with different performance features and characteristics.  It will also modernize the commission's budget and fee structure to improve transparency and accountability.  NEIMA is sponsored by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey). 

"Together, NEICA and NEIMA provide a path for private companies to test and refine scientific concepts using the national labs, and then take those concepts through the regulatory process and to market," added Crapo.  "I look forward to building on the momentum of today's energy bill and working with my colleagues to advance NEIMA."

The Energy Policy Modernization Act also includes the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, a provision led by Crapo and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).  It would establish voluntary public-private cooperative arrangements to better maintain fish habitats and restore harvestable populations for anglers and sportsmen.  It will now go to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

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