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


Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), today praised the passage of the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA) by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to partner with private innovators to test and demonstrate advanced reactor concepts.  The measure authorizes the creation of a National Reactor Innovation Center that will bring together the technical expertise of the National Labs, the DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the private sector to enable information sharing regarding the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors and materials.   The NRC participation in this center will enable it to contribute NRC expertise on safety issues while also learning about the new technologies being developed.  This measure strengthens the abilities of national laboratories to partner with private industry to prove the principles behind their ideas.


The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.


“I thank Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell for quickly moving the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Capabilities Act (NEICA).  This bipartisan measure will lay the ground work to enable the Idaho National Lab to continue leading in nuclear energy and research.  NEICA will eliminate barriers to innovation within the private sector and strengthen collaboration among all of our national labs,” said Crapo.  “Advancing NEICA to the full Senate will supports INL’s leadership in developing technology leading to the next generation of nuclear reactors.  Nuclear energy is a reliable, clean and efficient part of our national energy portfolio and passing NEICA will enable for its increased use domestically.”


"I’m grateful to Chairwoman Murkowski for making this legislation a top priority,” 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. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill in the full Senate.”


“Advanced reactors, including small modular reactors and micro-reactors, could be used to address the unique challenges facing Alaska by providing clean, affordable, and reliable power to our remote villages, cities, and military bases,” said Murkowski. “The policy changes made by this bill will help to revolutionize the nuclear industry and allow the U.S. to reestablish itself as the world leader in nuclear energy innovation.”

“The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s passage of the NEICA Act represents a critical next step in continuing support for American nuclear energy development, which is crucial to our economic prosperity,” Hatch said. “I am pleased that the Committee moved swiftly to advance this legislation, which will help keep our nation at the forefront of advanced nuclear technology and send a strong, much-needed signal to the private sector that the U.S. government is committed to a future of enduring nuclear energy development.”  

“With the support of federal funding, scientific discoveries are changing our world, driving our economy, and giving us the competitive edge that America needs to succeed in the 21st century,” Durbin said. “I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill, which will provide additional research infrastructure for academia, our National Laboratories, and the private sector to make scientific discoveries and protect America’s position at the forefront of innovation.”

"This bipartisan legislation will help spark the development of America’s next generation of nuclear power,” said Whitehouse.  “Collaboration between top researchers at our National Labs and private investors can help develop nuclear technology to move us away from the carbon-polluting energy driving climate change, and perhaps ultimately turn hazardous nuclear waste into a valuable power source.  I am glad to see this bipartisan bill advance out of committee today.”

“Committee passage of our bipartisan legislation is an important step forward,” said Booker. “In order to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible it is critical that our national labs share their expertise and work collaboratively with the dozens of private sector companies moving forward and investing billions of dollars in advanced nuclear reactor designs."