WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan legislation to revitalize the United States’ nuclear infrastructure. S. 4897, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, will enable U.S. international leadership, preserve America’s nuclear fuel supply chain, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen our economic, energy, and national security. 

“The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act will strengthen both America’s energy and national security,” said Barrasso. “In the face of Russian and Chinese aggression, it’s critical we remain the world’s leading developer of nuclear energy technology. This bipartisan legislation gets that done. Nuclear power is dependable and clean. Our bipartisan bill supports the continued operation of America’s existing reactors and sets the stage to deploy advanced nuclear technologies. It will also ensure that the nuclear fuel powering our nuclear plants comes from America or our trusted allies. Russia has flooded the global uranium market with cheap nuclear fuel. This costs jobs in Wyoming and undercuts our producers. America can never again be dependent on our adversaries to fuel the nuclear plants to power our homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. This bill creates a national uranium reserve, so we always have access to American fuel to power American nuclear plants.” 

“Carbon-free nuclear energy is already powering the electric grid at a large scale.  Our bill would help combat climate change by providing incentives to keep safely operating plants online,” said Whitehouse. “We also need to further invest in research to develop a new generation of nuclear power technologies that overcome existing environmental challenges, including by reusing spent nuclear fuel.”

“Over the last couple of years, Congress has ushered in a new chapter in U.S. nuclear energy by enacting legislation promoting nuclear innovation,” said Crapo. “The advancement of clean, reliable nuclear energy is paramount to maintaining the United States’ eminence in nuclear power, research and innovation.  Building on our other work in this space, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act will further facilitate our country’s nuclear competitiveness through enhanced collaboration with allied nations, nuclear energy workforce development and improved review processes to help deploy advanced nuclear technologies.  This bill, in conjunction with our other work, will help ensure research at the Idaho National Laboratory continues to contribute to and empower the long-term viability of our diverse domestic energy portfolio.  I thank Chairman Barrasso for his leadership on this important effort.”

“Nuclear energy is an important piece of the puzzle as we race against the clock to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change,” said Booker. “This bipartisan legislation will help keep our existing fleet of nuclear reactors safely operating, facilitate the development of next generation advanced reactors, and provide authorization for $1B for EPA to clean up legacy pollution from abandoned mines located on Tribal lands.”

The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 (ANIA) will:

  • Reestablish American International Competitiveness and Global Leadership;
    • ANIA empowers the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactor designs.
    • ANIA provides the NRC authority to deny imports of Russian and Chinese nuclear fuel on national security grounds.
  • Expand Nuclear Energy Through Advanced Nuclear Technologies;
    • ANIA makes the permitting process for advanced nuclear more predictable and efficient.
    • ANIA creates a prize to incentivize the successful deployment of next generation nuclear reactor technologies.
    • ANIA requires the NRC to identify and update regulatory barriers to enable advanced nuclear technologies to reduce industrial emissions.
  • Preserve Existing Nuclear Energy.
    • ANIA authorizes a targeted credit program to preserve nuclear reactors that could prematurely shut down.
    • ANIA modernizes outdated rules that restrict investment in nuclear energy.
  • Revitalize America’s Nuclear Supply Chain Infrastructure; and
    • ANIA helps develop the advanced nuclear fuels needed to power 21st century nuclear reactor designs.
    • ANIA authorizes a uranium reserve to ensure America does not lose the capacity to fuel its nuclear reactors with American fuel.
    • ANIA identifies modern manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.
  • Authorize funds for Environmental Cleanup Programs.
    • ANIA authorizes funding to assist in cleaning up legacy abandoned mining sites on Tribal land.

Read the section-by-section of the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 here.

Read the text of the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 here.

Background Information:

On July 29, 2020, Barrasso released draft legislation to revitalize America’s nuclear infrastructure. On August 5, 2020, the EPW Committee held a legislative hearing to consider Barrasso’s draft legislation.

On April 23, 2020, the Department of Energy released its report titled, “Restoring America’s Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage.” The report found the decline of our industrial nuclear supply capabilities threatens our national interest and national security. The report recommends actions that will set the United States back on the right track. ANIA implements the report’s key recommendations. 

On January 14, 2019, President Trump signed Barrasso’s legislation, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), into law. Beyond requiring the NRC to develop a rule to license advanced reactors, NEIMA provides the public greater clarity into the process by which the NRC develops its budget and recovers its costs through fees. The law requires the NRC to establish performance metrics and milestones for licensing and other regulatory actions. NEIMA was cosponsored by Booker, Crapo, and Whitehouse.