For the past three years, the Research and Business Development Center and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have worked together to quantify INL’s economic impact. The recent report on the lab’s economic contributions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 demonstrated the substantial benefits nuclear research brings to our great state. Removing roadblocks that prevent continued innovation in the nuclear sector so that our state can continue to benefit from INL’s great work is important.
This year’s report included the following highlights on the lab’s significant economic footprint:
• “In FY 2016, INL operations added $1.9 billion to Idaho’s gross economic output.”
• “INL employees’ spending creates an additional induced impact of more than $473 million on Idaho’s economy.”
• “INL’s average employment for FY 2016 was 4,077 employees.”
• “An additional 3,336 jobs are created or sustained by industries that support INL operations.”
• “INL employee spending creates or sustains an additional 3,863 jobs throughout Idaho.
• “The combined employment impact accounts for 11,276 jobs.”
• “INL’s increased economic activity in FY 2016 led to a nearly $324 million, or 20.4 percent, increase in output when compared to FY 2015.”
• “This resulted in a net increase of 1,983 jobs throughout Idaho.”
• “Added employment at INL and supporting businesses fueled growth in labor income by almost $92 million — a 13.1 percent increase compared to FY 2015.”
• “The combined value-added impact of innovation at INL and supporting businesses improved by more than $142 million or 15.2 percent from FY 2015 to FY 2016.”
Remarkably, innovation at INL is credited with a boost of more than $142 million in one year alone. This reinforces the importance of fueling innovation by making the legislative and policy changes necessary to enable more advancements in nuclear energy. As the 115th Congress kicks off I am working with my colleagues in Congress and the new Administration to advance legislative changes that would make it easier for America to remain innovative in the nuclear sector.
Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska recently joined me in re-introducing S. 97, 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. This bill is an improved version of legislation introduced in 2016 and is the companion to a bill also recently reintroduced and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We have the opportunity to make sound statute adjustments that enable growth at INL that can further benefit Idahoans and our nation. 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. 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.