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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. James Risch, R-Idaho and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho joined with Senate colleagues Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Chris Coons, D-Del., today to introduce bipartisan legislation to boost nuclear energy innovation and ensure advanced reactors can provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable power to meet national and global energy needs.  

S. 3422, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), will help reestablish U.S. leadership in nuclear energy by launching robust public-private partnerships between the federal government, leading research institutions, and the best industry innovators. The bill also promotes education initiatives, workforce development, and training in nuclear science.

“The use of clean and safe nuclear power is an important component of our nation’s energy security, and this legislation will allow us to continue exploring its full potential,”  Risch said.“As our nation’s nuclear energy lab, I am confident that the men and women at the Idaho National Lab will pioneer the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors and help America remain a world leader in nuclear energy.”

“The research and advances in nuclear energy being achieved by the experts at Idaho National Lab will be supported well into the future under this legislation,” Crapo said. “NELA will provide a long-term vision for advanced nuclear energy research, development and deployment in the U.S., continuing U.S. leadership in cutting-edge nuclear technology and clean, reliable energy.”

Advanced reactors are the next generation of breakthrough nuclear technologies that will offer significant advantages for power generation. Some are smaller than today’s commercial reactors and can provide increased reliability and resilience to the grid, as well as off-grid power. Others will utilize exotic fuels, materials, and coolants to decrease the cost of delivered power or provide high-temperature process heat for industrial manufacturing. 

Although the United States invented and commercialized nuclear power, our leadership has slipped, creating the need for new policies that encourage opportunities for the industry to design and deploy advanced reactor concepts. NELA will help facilitate the path to market for advanced reactors by allowing the federal government to be an early adopter of commercialized technologies; providing for needed scientific research facilities; breaking down fuel availability barriers when the market cannot; and training the next generation of nuclear scientists. 

This bill contains several sections, including: 

  • Authorization of Long-Term Power Purchase Agreements; 
  • Long-Term Nuclear Power Purchase Agreement Pilot Program; 
  • Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research and Development Goals; 
  • Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan; 
  • Versatile, Reactor-Based Fast Neutron Source; 
  • Advanced Nuclear Fuel Security Programs; and 
  • University Nuclear Leadership Program. 

A copy of the full text of the legislation is available here. Click here for a one-page bill summary and here to view a section-by-section.