INHOFE, WHITEHOUSE SPEAK ON BIPARTISAN NUCLEAR BILL AT ATLANTIC COUNCIL FORUM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today spoke at an Atlantic Council forum titled “Nuclear Energy: The Imperative for Innovation and Modernization." At the forum, the Senators discussed the importance of their bipartisan legislation, S.2795, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), and their efforts to get the legislation signed into law during the 114th Congress.
In his opening remarks, Inhofe said, “Other countries like China and Russia are proceeding to develop advanced technologies regardless of what we do here in the U.S. We cannot forgo advancements in reactor technology or we forgo our economic competitiveness and worldwide influence on nuclear non-proliferation. We need to enable advanced reactor innovators by providing a regulatory framework that is predictable and cost-effective while maintaining the NRC’s safety and security mission. This bill does that."
Full video of the forum, to include opening remarks and a Q&A moderated by National Journal’s Ben Geman, can be viewed here:http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/events/webcasts/nuclear-energy-the-imperative-for-innovation-modernization
On April 13, Inhofe and Whitehouse, along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced S.2795, a bill to modernize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by establishing new transparency and accountability measures to the NRC’s budget and fee programs as well as to develop the regulatory framework necessary to enable the licensing of advanced nuclear reactors. The legislation was passed out of the EPW Committee on May 18 with a strong bipartisan vote of 17 to 3.
On July 11, the four Senators published an op-ed with U.S. News and World Report declaring that the future of nuclear energy in the U.S. is bright, as evidence by the bipartisan coalition working to promote advanced nuclear innovation and development. In the op-ed, the Senators said: “Though we may come to this issue for different reasons, our end goal is the same. We want to promote new technologies that provide cleaner energy and get them built by and for Americans. We can't take a back seat as China and Russia build test reactors and lure away American innovators. This new nuclear renaissance is primed for success.”
Inhofe’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery are as follows:
I have been a strong supporter of nuclear energy since I became chair of this Subcommittee almost 20 years ago. It is a vital source of clean, safe, and affordable energy, which helps power this machine called America.
Our existing nuclear plants provide thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars in benefits to local communities. They have run safely for decades and many will serve our country for years to come.
However, I believe we also need to look to the future.
This is something Sen. Whitehouse and I strongly agree on, even though we have differing views on why nuclear energy is vitally important.
Our strong support for nuclear energy is shared by our colleagues Senator Booker and Senator Crapo. Together, we developed a bill, S. 2795, entitled “The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.”
Innovation has come to the nuclear industry. There are many new companies, nuclear “start-ups” in fact, that are pursuing concepts that advance safety, security, and efficiency.
However, two of the biggest challenges these innovators face are the costs and delays of trying to navigate a regulatory system that was developed around one technology --light-water reactors—a technology that is very different than what these innovators envision.
In order for these advanced technologies to thrive, they need a modern regulatory framework, one that is predictable and efficient, but flexible enough to assess a variety of technologies – all while ensuring that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission meets its safety and security mission.
Our bill seeks to modernize the NRC by providing a flexible regulatory framework for licensing advanced nuclear reactors and by updating the NRC’s fee recovery structure.
One need that is shared between existing reactor operators and advanced reactor innovators: the need for timely decision making from the NRC.
Our section to modernize NRC fee recovery structure will add transparency and accountability to improve the NRC’s efficiency and timeliness.
Altogether, these provisions represent a solid, bipartisan effort to modernize the cost and regulatory frameworks and enable the development of new generations of reactors with bold new technologies.
Other countries like China and Russia are proceeding to develop advanced technologies regardless of what we do here in the U.S. We cannot forgo advancements in reactor technology or we forgo our economic competitiveness and worldwide influence on nuclear non-proliferation.
We need to enable advanced reactor innovators by providing a regulatory framework that is predictable and cost-effective while maintaining the NRC’s safety and security mission. This bill does that.
In a time when people question whether Congress still knows how to be bipartisan, S. 2795 is proof that we can find common ground and craft important solutions to benefit the nation.
It’s the product of teamwork with my friends, Senators Booker, Whitehouse, and Crapo. It received a strong, bipartisan vote of 17-3 out of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
When Sen. Whitehouse and I wrote an op-ed on this issue with Senators Booker and Crapo, we noted how these advanced nuclear technologies “…hold enormous promise to provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable energy not just for our country but for the world.”
It is our job as legislators to enable that vision and I’m pleased to work together with Sen. Whitehouse to achieve that goal.