WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Kristine Svinicki, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Honorable Jeff Baran, commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Honorable Annie Caputo, commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Honorable David Wright, commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“This morning we will review the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s fiscal year 2021 budget request.
“Clean and constant nuclear power is a cornerstone of our nation’s energy infrastructure.
“It is also vital, if we are serious about addressing climate change.
“Nuclear energy reliably generates electricity to power our homes and businesses.
“Over the decades, utilities have steadily improved performance to increase how much nuclear energy the United States produces.
“As things stand today, this trend will not continue.
“Subsidized renewable energy production and costly regulations are contributing to the decline of America’s nuclear industry.
“To help preserve and expand nuclear energy, Congress passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.
“The law requires the commission to be prepared to review new reactor designs.
“One nuclear startup company is poised to submit an application for a ‘first-of-its-kind’ micro-reactor.
“This reactor will be radically different from today’s nuclear power plants in size as well as in complexity.
“The commission’s review will test its readiness to efficiently and affordably approve such new technologies.
“Preparing to license and oversee new technologies must complement the commission’s ongoing oversight of today’s reactors.
“In 2018, the commission’s staff launched an initiative to modernize the program that oversees nuclear power plants.
“The staff proposed modest recommendations to improve this program.
“The recommendations prioritize and incentivize addressing the most important safety factors.
“I support accepting and acting on these recommendations.
“The agency should continue this initiative by identifying additional improvements.
“We also need to preserve our nation’s nuclear fuel supply.
“America’s nuclear reactors should be fueled by American uranium.
“The Department of Energy will soon release a report recommending actions to revitalize our nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium production.
“Wyoming is the only state currently producing American uranium.
“Yesterday, the secretary of energy assured me America’s uranium producers will be provided immediate relief.
“The Trump administration understands the vital role uranium plays in energy and national security.
“Now, we must act to preserve America’s uranium industry.
“We must also act to speed the deployment of the next generation of American reactors.
“China is now leading the world in nuclear deployment.
“Last year, China increased its nuclear generation by eighteen percent.
“It plans to build replicas of American-designed nuclear reactors.
“We should not let other countries dominate the global market with technologies that we have developed.
“Russia is also advancing their nuclear interests.
“In December, they launched the first commercial floating nuclear plant to power remote populations near the Arctic Circle.
“Russia is also signing long-term deals with numerous countries, including Turkey and Egypt, to construct, operate, fuel, and service new nuclear power plants.
“The president has taken steps to create an ‘America First’ nuclear energy policy.
“Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should also reassert America’s nuclear energy leadership.
“The commission should partner with our allies and lead international nuclear forums to establish the regulatory framework for advanced reactor technologies.
“Congress should provide the commission the direction, authority, and resources it needs.
“The commission should not only be able to license new reactor designs, but also reduce barriers to manufacturing and using new reactor designs.
“Many restrictions on our nuclear industry are over sixty years old.
“By modernizing these outdated laws, Congress can unleash America’s nuclear potential.
“I look forward to hearing more about how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to meet the needs of the industry it regulates.”