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Clean Nuclear Energy, Research Advanced in Bipartisan Senate Bill

Private-public partnerships can improve research, drive innovation

Washington, D.C. – Private-sector innovators in nuclear energy and government researchers will work hand-in-hand to create the next generation of clean, advanced nuclear power under bi-partisan legislation introduced today in the U.S. Senate.

Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), today re-introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA).  The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize partnering with private innovators to test and demonstrate advanced reactor concepts.  The measure authorizes the creation of a National Reactor Innovation Center that brings together the technical expertise of the National Labs and DOE to enable the construction of experimental reactors.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would partner with the DOE in this effort, which would enable the NRC to contribute its expertise on safety issues while also learning about the new technologies developed through the Center.  This measure strengthens the abilities of national laboratories to partner with private industry to prove the principles behind their ideas. Today’s introduction is an improved version of similar legislation sponsored in 2016 by Crapo, Whitehouse, Risch, Booker and Hatch. 

“There is bipartisan agreement in Congress that nuclear energy and nuclear research have been underutilized as a reliable, safe, clean and efficient part of our national energy portfolio,” said Crapo.  “We are working to eliminate barriers to innovation within the private sector and strengthening collaboration with our national labs to maintain American preeminence in nuclear energy.”

“Including clean nuclear energy as part of our nation’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is common sense,”  said Risch. “Idaho’s history in advanced nuclear technology and the INL’s position as our nation’s nuclear energy lab makes us a natural leader in this public-private endeavor.”

The NEICA legislation is the companion to a bill in the U.S. House, introduced by Representative Randy Weber (R-Texas) with original cosponsors Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Lamar Smith (R-TX).