By Dr. James Conca
Two bipartisan pieces of legislation modernizing America’s nuclear future have recently become law. It’s still a long way from pushing nuclear builds the way we need to address a host of environmental issues, but it is a good start.
The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to make regulations move more quickly with respect to new nuclear reactors and to establish a better and faster licensing structure for advanced nuclear reactors. It was signed by the President and became law on January 14th.
The 361 to 10 vote to approve in the House indicated a pretty high level of bipartisanship, as did the unanimous consent with a voice vote in the Senate.
NEIMA also imposes a cap on the NRC’s annual fees for existing reactors, with adjustments for inflation, to ensure the operating fleet is not unjustly impacted as reactors go offline.
The other law is the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA) that became law last September. NEICA updates the mission and objectives of the Department of Energy’s civilian nuclear energy programs, particularly supporting the deployment of advanced reactors and developing a reactor-based fast neutron source for the testing of advanced reactor fuels and materials.
Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, described these legislations as a “significant, positive step” toward the reform of the NRC’s fee collection process. “This legislation establishes a more equitable and transparent funding structure which will benefit all operating reactors and future licensees,” she said. “The bill also reaffirms Congress’s support for nuclear innovation by working to establish an efficient and stable regulatory structure that is prepared to license the advanced reactors of the future.”
NEICA should speed up the development of advanced reactors in the United States by eliminating some of the financial and technological barriers that have
By Dr. James Conca