NUCLEAR ENERGY INNOVATION AND MODERNIZATION ACT (NEIMA)
U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), joined with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to introduce S. 512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA).
Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Christopher Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Jim Risch (R-ID) have also joined in support of the legislation as co-sponsors.
NEIMA will provide the public greater clarity into the process by which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) develops its budget and recovers its costs through fees. The bill requires the NRC to establish performance metrics and milestones for licensing and other regulatory actions.
NEIMA requires the commission to develop a regulatory framework for America’s innovators, who seek to deploy advanced nuclear technologies. Finally, the bill directs the NRC to establish a pilot project to provide uranium producers predictable fees for routine licensing matters. The legislation has received broad support from stakeholders.
NEIMA was also cosponsored by Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Kennedy (R-LA), and James Risch (R-ID).
On March 22, 2017, the EPW committee passed NEIMA. On December 20, 2018, the Senate passed the bill by voice vote. On December 21, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 361-10. On January 14, 2019, President Trump signed NEIMA into law.
WHAT SENATORS ARE SAYING ABOUT NEIMA:
“I applaud President Trump for signing this significant nuclear energy legislation into law,” said Chairman Barrasso. “This law will make sure the United States remains a leader of nuclear energy innovation. Nuclear energy not only creates jobs but is critical if we are going to reduce carbon emissions in a meaningful way. The law will bring greater transparency and accountability to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s spending. Additionally, it will establish a licensing process for advanced nuclear reactors and other new technologies. I want to thank members of Congress for coming together to pass this important legislation.”
“Nuclear power serves as our nation’s largest source of reliable, carbon-free energy, which can help combat the negative impacts of climate change and at the same time, foster economic opportunities for Americans,” said Ranking Member Carper. “If we are smart, we will replace our aging nuclear reactors with new technology developed in this country that is safer, produces less spent fuel and is cheaper to build and operate. I want to thank Senator Barrasso for working with me on this important bipartisan legislation that supports advanced nuclear reactors and ensures the United States remains on the cutting edge. This is another important step in our fight against climate change.”
“It’s important that the United States remain a leader in technological innovation, and I’m glad that my House colleagues also recognize the importance of growing our nuclear industry to meet the energy and environmental challenges of the 21st century,” said Capito, chair of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. “It’s great to see this bipartisan legislation head to the president’s desk so we can maintain the availability of diverse, reliable, and affordable sources of electricity for the American people.”
“A new generation of nuclear technology could help tackle the serious climate threats we face, and may even help address the challenge of nuclear waste. That’s why it’s important to update the federal government’s outdated approval process for new nuclear technologies,” said Whitehouse, ranking member of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee. “I am proud to have worked with this bipartisan group on this bill, which will give our nuclear regulator the flexibility it needs to bring new, safe reactors online to produce carbon-free energy.”
“The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act is critical for the revitalization and improvement of our nation’s nuclear energy industry,” Inhofe said. “Nuclear energy has played an important role in the complex energy network of our country, but as we work to improve upon and modernize nuclear power plants, it’s important that we reform the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reflect the future of the industry as well. By creating a new licensing framework for advanced reactors, and adjusting the fee structure as it applies to both traditional nuclear power plants and innovative reactors, NEIMA ensures that the NRC will operate efficiently, in turn allowing us to take full advantage of our country’s important nuclear fleet. I am proud Congress passed this bill and I look forward to the president’s signature.”
“The research being completed at Idaho National Lab to develop modern, clean and efficient energy contributes immensely to our nation’s domestic energy portfolio,” said Crapo. “This bipartisan measure is important for Idaho because it will help ensure that the work being done at Idaho’s National Lab will have a path through to the commercial market. NEIMA pushes the NRC to modernize so that it has the ability to license advanced reactors in a safe, timely, and transparent manner.”
“This is a strong bipartisan bill that is going to help ensure electricity prices stay affordable for families in Nebraska. It also makes common sense reforms to promote the development of nuclear technology so our nation can utilize a variety of energy sources. The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act cuts federal red tape to keep our country competitive,” said Fischer.
“As we seek to secure and advance nuclear energy in the United States, it is imperative that we have licensing processes that are predictable and efficient while prioritizing safety and environmental responsibility. Nuclear will be a key piece of our nation’s clean energy future and I am pleased to see this legislation signed into law,” Manchin said.
WHAT STAKEHOLDERS ARE SAYING ABOUT NEIMA:
“The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) is a significant, positive step toward reform of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission fee collection process. This legislation establishes a more equitable and transparent funding structure which will benefit all operating reactors and future licensees. 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.” (Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, 12/21/18)
“It’s heartening to again see Congress step up to the plate in a big bipartisan way to bolster advanced nuclear technologies that are major part of the future of U.S. and global clean and reliable power. Bringing any new energy technology into the marketplace is daunting, and that’s doubly-true for heavily regulated industries like nuclear. By allowing companies a pathway to licensing with clearer expectations and benchmarks in line with other heavily regulated products like drugs and aircraft, NEIMA will unlock even greater private-sector innovation towards a reinvigorated nuclear sector.”(Rich Powell, executive director of Clear Path Action 12/21/18)
“Passage of NEIMA is a big win for the nation and the men and women of the U.S. nuclear community. By reforming outdated laws, NRC will now be able to invest more freely in advanced nuclear R&D and licensing activities. This in turn will accelerate deployment of cutting-edge American nuclear systems and better prepare the next generation of nuclear engineers and technologists.” (Marilyn Kray, president-elect and current vice president of the American Nuclear Society, 1/4/19)
“In a time of enormous disagreement between both sides of the Congressional aisles, this legislation is a shining example of how both parties can agree on a bi-partisan basis on a matter of great urgency for the country. We salute not only the bill’s sponsors in the Senate and the House, but also the many congressional staff members involved with the development of this legislation. For the original proponents of the legislation, it’s so gratifying to be able to push this bill over the top.” (Matt Bowen, nuclear policy fellow at Clean Air Task Force, 12/23/18)
“The bill includes fee reforms and modernization requirements that will enhance the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s capability to efficiently and thoroughly review advanced designs. This will improve the path to commercialization for advanced reactors that can play an important role in addressing climate change and global energy needs.” (Nuclear Innovation Alliance, 12/22/18)
“The passage of NEIMA is a watershed moment for regulatory reform and licensing modernization for U.S. advanced nuclear energy leadership and the current operating fleet. Coupled with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) own efforts to transform its licensing blueprint, S. 512 will accelerate reforms to address structural issues with the Agency’s budget and fee recovery authorities to promote long-warranted transparency and accountability. It will also expedite the establishment of performance benchmarks and reporting to Congress to enhance surety in the NRC’s decision-making timelines without compromising safety.” (Nuclear Industry Council, 1/4/19)
“The Senate and House took bipartisan action to help the transition to a carbon-free future by passing an important bill that accelerates advanced nuclear innovation. The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act improves the licensing process for advanced reactors by requiring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop more efficient licensing pathways, enhance its technical capacity to review new reactor designs, and provide additional transparency and predictability for reactor developers throughout the process… By passing NEIMA, Congress has increased the odds of getting these emerging carbon-free technologies to market, and keeping America at the forefront of clean energy innovation.” (Josh Freed, senior vice president for clean energy at Third Way, 12/21/18)
"NEIMA is a landmark law that establishes constructive steps to modernize the country's regulatory infrastructure in anticipation of the remarkable changes taking place in the nuclear sector...Your actions leading to the enactment of NEIMA bring the U.S. a large step closer to establishing global leadership in the nuclear energy sector. Commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies is essential to achieving this national objective and could not be possible without NEIMA." (Next Generation Nuclear Plan (NGNP) Industry Alliance, 1/28/19)