Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing 2.795, Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.
The bill, announced April 13, would update the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by establishing new transparency and accountability measures to the NRC’s budget and fee programs as well as to develop the regulatory framework necessary to enable the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors.
In announcing the bipartisan legislation, Inhofe said that both existing nuclear plants and advanced reactors need a predictable NRC review process. Inhofe also said that NRC’s “one-size-fits-all framework” was not designed to handle a wide variety of technology types.
“The NRC needs to develop a regulatory framework that leaves room for innovators to innovate. Our bill authorizes NRC to do just that,” Inhofe said in a news release.
“We need to remove barriers to adopting promising low-carbon technology like advanced nuclear reactors to address the serious threats from fossil fuels,” Whitehouse said. “Researchers around the country have been working on advanced nuclear reactors that can supply clean and affordable energy to the grid while possibly solving nuclear waste problems. Our nuclear regulator needs to be able to adapt to these new technologies and this legislation will give it that flexibility,” Whitehouse said.
Among other things, the bill would set up a new NRC fee recovery system that would take effect in FY 2019. The NRC would also be directed to develop a licensing process for advanced nuclear reactors.
The bill would also establish an Advanced Nuclear Energy Cost Share Grant Program run through the Department of Energy. Successful grant applicants could use the grants to fund a portion of their NRC review fees.