A coalition of nine advanced nuclear advocates today applauded introduction of the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Leadership Act as an important step in creating a comprehensive blueprint for bolstering the next-generation of the nation’s largest source of reliable and carbon-free power.
Led by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), as well as more than a dozen other cosponsors, NELA addresses the lack of aggressive yet achievable milestones for U.S.-led advanced reactor technologies and of an overall long-term strategy for the direction of U.S. nuclear science and engineering research and development.
“NELA is a broad and bold step toward developing the federal goals and public-private partnerships necessary to cross valley of death that often stops groundbreaking nuclear innovation from winning in the marketplace,” ClearPath Action Executive Director Rich Powell said. “It’s also another great example of the bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for reducing carbon emissions and forging ahead with the next-generation of clean and reliable nuclear technologies that China, Russia and others are trying to corner the global market on.”
“The world needs advanced nuclear to help aggressively reduce carbon emissions,” said Third Way Senior Vice President for Clean Energy Josh Freed. “There are enormous economic, safety, and security benefits if those reactors are developed by American innovators and American companies. This imperative has helped drive bipartisan cooperation across two Administrations and through multiple Congresses to support the development and commercialization of clean, advanced nuclear power. The next step is NELA, which will establish clear milestones for American companies and the federal government to work together to meet, and provide collaborators a strategy to get there.”
“The NELA action plan and the definitive steps it lays out are essential to our efforts to decarbonize the U.S. economy and meet our mid-century emission reduction goals,” Center for Climate and Energy Solutions President Bob Perciasepe said. “The transition to a low-carbon economy is far more achievable when advanced and existing carbon-free nuclear are included in our mix of power generation.”
“We must reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero as soon as possible, and having a lower cost nuclear energy option will greatly enhance our chance of success,” remarked Clean Air Task Force’s Executive Director Armond Cohen. “This legislation would provide important strategic direction, infrastructure, and commercial pilot opportunities to help us realize that option.”
“Nuclear power is an important piece of the all-of-the-above response to climate change. As policymakers look for economical ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions while growing our economy, next generation nuclear must be part of the solution,” said Drew Bond, Director of Energy Innovation for the American Council on Capital Formation. “The NELA legislation introduced today by Sens. Murkowski and Booker supports America’s development of next generation nuclear reactors that are economically scalable, safe and sustainable. In addition to supporting American-made clean energy innovation, this bill supports the United States’ having a global leadership position in civil nuclear energy while at the same time defending against nuclear proliferation.”
“The U.S. has long been a leader in nuclear energy technology, and the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) is key to continuing this global leadership and providing long-term energy security,” says BPC Action Executive Director Michele Stockwell. “BPC Action applauds Sens. Murkowski (R-AK) and Booker (D-NJ) for their work on this crucial bipartisan legislation.”
“NELA opens the door for nuclear to compete with other types of energy generation, and offers significant progress towards strengthening our domestic nuclear capabilities and overall market competitiveness,” said Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) Executive Director Heather Reams. “Nuclear energy supplies 20% of the electricity in the United States, with zero emissions. We know nuclear has great promise for lowering emissions, but its full potential will not be reached without more collaboration between the federal government and the private sector. NELA is a great step towards modernizing the U.S. nuclear energy policy and maintaining our position as a global leaders in this space.”
“Nuclear energy is a vital element in helping the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and U.S. leadership in the field serves U.S. economic, environmental, and security interests,” said Dr. Ashley Finan, Executive Director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance. “The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act takes important steps towards revitalizing our nuclear R&D program and launching the demonstration and deployment of the next generation of U.S. nuclear energy technologies.”
American Nuclear Society President John Kelly said: “ANS applauds all Senators behind the introduction of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act. NELA is an important step forward in supporting development of the U.S. advanced reactor technology portfolio and the nuclear engineering workforce. The Society is pleased to support this legislation as advanced reactors play a crucial role in the long-term production of clean, reliable energy.”
NELA would direct the Department of Energy to establish specific goals to align the federal government, national labs and private sector in efforts to accelerate advanced nuclear technologies. It would also require DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy to develop a 10-year strategic plan that supports advanced nuclear R&D goals.
NELA addresses the lack of domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HA-LEU), which will be needed to fuel most advanced reactors being designed, by establishing a program to provide a minimum amount of HA-LEU to U.S. advanced reactor developers from DOE sources until a new long-term supply is developed.
Advanced fuels and materials will also need a reliable testing ground. NELA directs DOE to construct a fast neutron research facility that will be used to test reactor components and demonstrate their safe and reliable operation, as well as fulfill other national research and development needs. Currently, the only machines capable of producing an adequate fast neutron spectrum are located in Russia and China.
The bill also initiates a power purchase agreement pilot program between the DOE and utilities to procure nuclear power, and provides a technology-neutral extension of power purchasing authority for the federal government, from the current 10 years out to 40 years. The final portion of the bill reauthorizes nuclear engineering scholarships to maintain a robust pipeline of nuclear engineering talent.