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Press Releases :: November 30, 2010

House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Advance R&D for Safe, Cost-Effective, Proliferation-Resistant Nuclear Energy

(Washington, DC) –The House of Representatives approved H.R. 5866, the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2010, with bipartisan support by voice vote.     

“The U.S. is losing its competitive edge in nuclear energy technology.  This trend will represent billions of dollars in foregone opportunity for the U.S.  But regaining our edge is not just a matter of keeping a foothold in a global marketplace with new competitors such as China,” said bill author and Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).  “With emerging threats from the likes of Iran and North Korea, and with a host of other countries recently announcing their nuclear ambitions, now more than ever it is imperative that the U.S. lead the world in developing and deploying the safest, most advanced, cost-effective, and proliferation-resistant nuclear energy and fuel cycle technologies.

The bill focuses on R&D programs to help nuclear power overcome shortfalls, including by increasing the efficiency of current and future technology, decreasing the costs of plant development, and providing the technology for safe long-term waste management. 

This bill also authorizes a Small Modular Reactors program to conduct both near-term and advanced research and development of small reactor technologies.  The legislation also authorizes R&D in waste management and for advanced reactor concepts.  Furthermore, the bill supports the development or revision of technical standards for nuclear power technologies.

Our nation’s 104 commercial reactors today produce 20 percent of our electricity and 70 percent of our emissions free energy.  Clearly, if we are to increase our energy independence, nuclear must continue to be a large part of our nation’s energy mix,said Gordon.  However, despite a strong record of safety and operating efficiency, capital costs continue to rise for construction of new plants, and the question of how to manage the waste byproducts of nuclear fission remains.  This bill will modernize and improve our federal nuclear energy R&D programs to seek the answers to these challenges. 

The bill has been endorsed by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance, the American Chemical Society, Babcock and Wilcox, General Electric-Hitachi, and Westinghouse.

For more information on the Committee’s work on nuclear energy, please visit our website.





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