US infrastructure bill sends a positive signal for nuclear, says NIA

19 July 2021

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) has welcomed the reintroduction of the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA) last week by five US senators, three Republicans and two Democrats. This represents continued bipartisan support for advanced reactors, the non-profit "think and do" tank said.

(Image: NIA)

ANIA was reintroduced by US Senator Shelley Moore Capito, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, John Barrasso, Cory Booker, and Mike Crapo. They say ANIA would improve the nation's nuclear infrastructure, secure its uranium supply chain, grow the economy, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen its energy and national security.

NIA Executive Director Judi Greenwald said the move "sends a strong signal" about continuing bipartisan support for advanced nuclear energy innovation. ANIA provides a "licensing prize" to reimburse licensing fees for new reactors, consistent with the NIA's recent report on how to reform fees to catalyse nuclear innovation, and the bill also modifies restrictions in the Atomic Energy Act on foreign investment in the USA, enabling US allies to fully invest in American innovation, consistent with past NIA recommendations.

"We are encouraged to see continued support for this next step in enabling the development, demonstration and deployment of advanced reactors in the coming decades," Greenwald said. "When enacted, this clear direction from Congress will ensure the US energy industry can develop the technologies necessary to mid-century climate goals while also creating new jobs and boosting economic development in communities across the country. We look forward to working with the congressional sponsors to help marshal the support needed to enact this vital legislation."

The NIA works to enable nuclear power as a global solution to mitigate climate change. It is funded primarily through charitable grants and philanthropic donations from "climate-concerned" individuals and organisations.
Capito said nuclear power can provide "critical clean and reliable electricity" and ANIA will help "preserve and expand" the USA's use of nuclear energy, creating jobs and strengthening its energy and national security.

Whitehouse added: "Our bill would help safely operating plants stay online, preventing their replacement with dirtier fossil fuels. "We also need to invest in developing a new generation of nuclear power technologies that can productively reuse spent nuclear fuel."

The senators say that ANIA will, among other things: re-establish American international competitiveness and global leadership; empower the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead a consensus-building process in international forums to establish regulations for advanced nuclear reactor designs; provides the NRC authority to deny imports of Russian nuclear fuel on national security grounds; expand nuclear energy through advanced nuclear technologies; and incentivise the successful licensing process of next generation nuclear technologies and fuels. ANIA also authorises a targeted credit programme to preserve nuclear plants at risk of premature closure and modernises rules on investment in nuclear energy.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News