The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation written by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that would increase nuclear research efforts at the Idaho National Laboratory and other national labs through new partnerships between the public and private sectors.
The Jan. 28 vote of 87 to 4 to approve the amendment makes it a part of a larger energy policy reform bill before the Senate.
Crapo and other senators originally introduced the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which was the foundation of the Crapo amendment. The legislation, S. 2461, directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize partnering with private innovators on new reactor technologies and the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts.
The amendment would establish a “National Nuclear Innovation Center.”
Under the agreement, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would report to Congress on any barriers that would prohibit the licensing of new reactors within a four-year time period. It would require an NRC report on the licensing of non-light water reactors.
The Senate continues debating S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Bill, which now includes this bipartisan amendment.
“This vote demonstrates the commitment in the Senate to a long-term future for nuclear power production and research opportunities,” Crapo said.
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, where a giant wave inundated parts of a coastal nuclear plant, Crapo has said that the domestic nuclear industry has been forced to devote much attention to the existing nuclear fleet.