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Press Releases :: July 28, 2010

Subcommittee Advances Bipartisan Nuclear Energy Research Bill

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee held a markup on a H.R. 5866, the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2010. The bill was authored by Full Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), and co-sponsored by Full Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC). 

“Whether we are concerned about climate change, energy independence, or both, nuclear power will need to remain a component of our national energy portfolio,” said Gordon. “This bill makes investments in research and development to help increase efficiency of current and future technology, decrease the cost of plant development, and provide technology for long-term waste management.”

“Nuclear energy is the single largest source of low-emissions power in the United States. If we increase our energy independence and mitigate the effects of climate change, nuclear energy will likely have to be a big part of that equation,” said Baird.  “However, the rising costs of managing nuclear waste has heavily burdened the industry and caused great concern over reliability and long-term safety.  This bill integrates the activities within the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and provides a more comprehensive approach in overcoming these fundamental challenges.” 
 
The bill advances Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which have the potential to reduce the capital costs and default risk of nuclear energy providers while increasing the safety and reliability of nuclear generation.  This bill authorizes an SMR program to conduct both near-term and advanced research and development.
 
This bill also creates a Fuel Cycle R&D program at the Department of Energy that will take a comprehensive approach to waste management, including research into fuel forms, advanced reactor designs, reprocessing technologies, and advanced storage methods.
 
The bill also makes investments in R&D for Reactor Concepts, which will look at advanced reactor designs and technologies to prolong the life of currently-deployed reactors, and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies, which will address a wide range of cross-cutting technologies, such as the development of advanced reactor materials and advanced proliferation and security risk assessment methods.
 
The bill also requires the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish a nuclear energy standards committee to support the development or revision of technical standards for nuclear power technologies.
 
The Subcommittee adopted amendments from:  Subcommittee Chairman Baird;  Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ); Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD); Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM); Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA); and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). 
 
The Full Committee intends to consider the bill in September.
 
For more information, including on the Committee’s work on nuclear energy, please see our website.
 
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