U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, last week joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing S. 2795, Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, a bill to modernize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by establishing new transparency and accountability measures to the NRC’s budget and fee programs as well as to develop the regulatory framework necessary to enable the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors.
“Our traditional nuclear power plants have provided our country with safe, reliable, clean, and affordable energy for decades,” Inhofe said. “While most of these plants will continue to operate for years to come, we must look to the future. Existing plants and advanced reactors both need a modern structure for NRC fees that ensures resources are available to support efficient and timely decision making by the NRC. But advanced reactors need something more – a predictable NRC review process that recognizes NRC’s one-size-fits-all framework was never designed to handle a wide variety of technologies. The NRC needs to develop a regulatory framework that leaves room for innovators to innovate. Our bill authorizes NRC to do just that.”
“Clean energy is vital to the health of our environment and the sustainability of our economy from America’s rural communities to our largest cities,” Booker said. “This bill will help provide the regulatory structure needed for safe, advanced nuclear energy to play an important role as we transition to a carbon-free energy future.”
“We need to remove barriers to adopting promising low-carbon technology like advanced nuclear reactors to address the serious threats from fossil fuels,” Whitehouse said. “Researchers around the country have been working on advanced nuclear reactors that can supply clean and affordable energy to the grid while possibly solving nuclear waste problems. Our nuclear regulator needs to be able to adapt to these new technologies and this legislation will give it that flexibility.”
“There is bipartisan agreement that using more clean nuclear energy must be part of any forward-looking domestic energy portfolio,” Crapo said. “This measure is important to Idaho because it will help ensure that the work being done at Idaho’s National Lab will have a path through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and on to the commercial market. NEIMA pushes the Commission to modernize so that it has the ability to license advanced reactors in a safe, timely, and transparent manner. It will also 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 agency is doing with its resources.”