Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act

“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.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In late December, Congress passed S. 512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA). The bipartisan legislation now awaits President Trump’s signature. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced and was the lead Senate author of the bill.

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 metrics and milestones for licensing and other regulatory actions. NEIMA also requires the commission to establish a regulatory framework for America’s innovators, who seek to develop, license, and 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.

What They 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)

Background Information:

NEIMA was introduced by Barrasso and is cosponsored by committee ranking member Tom Carper (D-DE) and by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), chair and ranking member of the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety. It is also cosponsored by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), 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 legislation by voice vote. On December 21, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 361-10. NEIMA was presented to President Trump on January 2, 2019, and the bill awaits his signature.

For more information on NEIMA, click here.