The U.S. Senate today approved overwhelmingly 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.
Crapo, along with Senators Jim Risch, Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-Rhode Island), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) originally introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which was the foundation of the Crapo amendment voted on today. The legislation, S. 2461, 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.”
“Including clean nuclear energy as part of our nation’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is a no-brainer,” said Risch. “Idaho’s history in advanced nuclear technology and the INL’s position as the nation’s preeminent nuclear energy research lab makes us a natural leader in this public-private endeavor. I’m glad to see so many of my Senate colleagues agree that this legislation can and will do great things to encourage research and partnerships that lead to the next generation of reactors.”
The Senate continues debating S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Bill, which now includes Crapo’s bipartisan amendment.