A group of U.S. senators, including both of Idaho’s, introduced a bill Thursday meant to bolster the American nuclear industry.
The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act would authorize nuclear power producers to enter into 40-year-long power purchase agreements with the federal government, rather than the 10 they are limited to now. It would require the U.S. Department of Energy to come up with a 10-year strategic plan to support nuclear research that will “foster breakthrough innovation to help advanced nuclear reactors reach the market,” according to a summary of the bill. It would also establish goals for cooperation between the federal government, private industry and national labs like Idaho National Laboratory to help establish the U.S. as a leader in nuclear technology and better compete with countries like China and Russia that have state-owned or sponsored nuclear industries. The bill would also provide high-assay low-enriched uranium, which contains between 5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium and is used in advanced reactors, from stockpiles owned by the Department of Energy until a long-term domestic supply is developed.
Other co-sponsors are Sens. 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.