Murkowski, Booker, and Colleagues Introduce the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Cory Booker, D-N.J., James Risch, R-Idaho, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Chris Coons, D-Del., today introduced 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.

“Nuclear power provides clean, safe, efficient, flexible, and reliable power to American families and businesses, but we have only scratched the surface of its immense potential,” Murkowski said. “Our bipartisan bill will help rejuvenate the U.S. nuclear industry by providing the tools, resources, and partnerships necessary to drive innovation in advanced reactors. I thank my colleagues for joining me in sponsoring this timely measure to create American jobs and restore our global leadership on nuclear technologies.”

“Addressing the threat of climate change requires that the United States lead in the development of advanced nuclear energy technologies,” Booker said. “This bipartisan bill will help accelerate energy innovation and support the start-up companies here in the U.S. that are investing billions of dollars into these next generation reactor designs.”

“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.”

“In order to take full advantage of our country’s energy potential and position ourselves as a global energy leader, we need to pursue a true all-of-the-above energy strategy; and along with our nation’s coal resources, nuclear power must continue to provide invaluable baseload electricity as part of that strategy. This bipartisan legislation will help drive innovation, efficiency, and development when it comes to nuclear power and technology,” Capito said.

“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.”

“Illinois serves a critical role in nuclear energy production in America, ranking first for nuclear power generation, producing one-tenth of the nuclear power generated in America, and being home to the Argonne National Laboratory,” Durbin said. “I am proud to support the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, a bill that will help ensure America is leading the way in producing safe and reliable nuclear energy by supporting innovative strategies in the field.”

“I have always said, that we must find a balance between energy and the environment and commit to an all of the above energy policy that uses everything we have – coal, wind, solar, natural gas, nuclear, and more. That’s why investing in new energy technologies is so important,” Manchin said. “Our bipartisan legislation will advance essential nuclear power technology to better ensure the future reliability of our grid.”

“America is on the cusp of major breakthroughs in advanced nuclear energy technologies that can benefit our energy industry and climate alike. Convening leading minds from the private sector and top public research institutions will bring new technologies forward to compete against polluting forms of energy like coal and natural gas,” Whitehouse said. “I’m excited to join this bipartisan group to introduce this legislation and continue the momentum behind promising advanced nuclear technology that could provide America with carbon-free energy and possibly even reduce our stockpile of nuclear waste.”

“Nuclear energy must continue to be part of our energy mix as we move toward a carbon-neutral future,” Coons said. “I am pleased to join my colleagues on this bill that will support the development and commercialization of next-generation nuclear technologies here in the U.S.”

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.


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