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senate Bill S. 903

Should U.S. Research Institutions and Industry Innovators Collaborate on Nuclear Energy?

Argument in favor

Nuclear energy is a viable component of a clean energy future. The federal government should do all it can to help U.S. researchers and industry bring advanced reactors and other new nuclear technology to market to produce clean energy that’ll help mitigate climate change.

Solomon's Opinion
···
05/01/2019
We should push hard to bring to market nuclear technologies that produce waste that requires less than 100 years of containment
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Michael's Opinion
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last Friday
Nuclear is going to be the best, most sustainable option for the future. They are safe and more efficient than they had been before losing popularity. And while I'm for other renewable energy, options like solar are good for the environment if you ignore how they are made. Nuclear doesn't have that problem and we could power the entire country on them like France has done. This is the US, if France can do it, we should be able to do so as well
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exothermic's Opinion
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05/01/2019
Wind power is the safest, cleanest form of energy we've invented so far, but nuclear power is the SECOND safest and SECOND cleanest, and it has many advantages over wind, such as being available in different locations, being consistent despite the weather, and requiring far less deforestation and land, to produce far more energy. Nuclear should be the main component in our Green future.
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Argument opposed

The U.S. doesn’t have any official disposal sites for commercial nuclear waste, and trying to find a solution is so politically contentious, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Until this issue is resolved, it’s not feasible to research and invest in nuclear energy.

doingmypart's Opinion
···
05/02/2019
Use your brains for once. Why do we keep shooting yourselves in the foot. Wind, sun, tides, geothermal, natural gas and hydro done right are cheap once built and have zero nuclear waste. Where’s the downside? We should continue to research nonmilitary nuclear options for energy in space so we can escape, once we destroy our planet.
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Frances's Opinion
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05/01/2019
NUCLEAR ENGERGY IS TOO DANGEROUS--THREE MILE ISLAND, FUKUSHIMA, CHERNOBYL---THERE IS A REASON THESE PLACES HAVE A TERRIBLE MEANING! MY HUSBAND WORKED IN THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY--IT IS DANGEROUS AND THE DANGER NEVER GOES AWAY---EVER!!! AND EVER PIECE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL AND THE WATER USED TO COOL THE REACTORS CAN NEVER, EVER, BE RELEASED AGAIN--AND WE DO NOT HAVE GOOD ENOUGH FACILITIES TO STORE IT ALL--ONLY TEMPORARY ONES THAT HAVE BECOME PERMANENT BECAUSE CONGRESS NEVER VOTES THE FUNDS TO MAKE SECURE PERMANENT ENCLOSURES---AND THIS IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS---AND YOU WANT TO ADD TO THE DANGER??? ARE YOU ALL CRAZY??? DOES NO ONE HAVE A SINGLE WORKING BRAIN CELL IN CONGRESS???
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Catharine's Opinion
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05/01/2019
FUKUSHIMA IS STILL LEAKING RADIATION INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN,THE US HAS NOT SECURE WAY OF STORING NUCLEAR WASTE,are we devolving here?
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
    IntroducedMarch 27th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 903?

This bill — the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) — would establish robust public-private partnerships between leading U.S. research institutions and industry innovators. It’d aim to facilitate a path to market for advanced reactors by allowing the federal government to be an early adopter of commercialized technologies, demonstrating innovative concepts in partnership with the private sector, providing necessary scientific research facilities, breaking down fuel availability barriers, and training the next generation of nuclear scientists.


Authorization of Long-Term Power Purchase Agreements

Currently, nuclear energy is at a disadvantage when competing for federal power purchase agreements (PPA) due to a law limiting PPAs to 10 years. Since initial capital costs for nuclear reactors are paid for over a period beyond 10 years, 10-year PPAs don’t work for nuclear projects. Thus, this bill would update the law to extend federal PPAs’ maximum length from 10 to 40 years.


Long-Term Nuclear Power Purchase Agreement Pilot Program

This section of the bill would establish a pilot program for the federal government to enter into a federal nuclear PPA exceeding 10 years. This would allow the federal government to partner with industry to be an early adopter of new technologies that increase electric reliability and resilience, especially for grid assets that are critical to U.S. national security.


Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research and Development Goals

This section of the bill would direct the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to demonstrate advanced reactors with the private sector and to establish specific goals in this area. DOE would be required to demonstrate two advanced reactor concepts by 2025, and another two to five concepts by 2035. These demonstrations could include reactors that develop electricity or that provide process heat, off-grid energy, or backup power. This would send a strong signal that the U.S. is re-establishing itself as a global leader in nuclear technology and help the U.S. nuclear industry compete with state-owned or state-sponsored developers in rival nations, especially China and Russia. It’d facilitate collaboration between the federal government, National Labs, and private industry.


Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan

This section of the bill would require DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy to develop a 10-year strategic plan that supports advanced nuclear R&D goals that will foster breakthrough innovation to help advanced nuclear reactors reach the market. This would set a cohesive long-term strategic for the direction of U.S. nuclear science and engineering R&D policy across administrations.


Versatile, Reactor-Based Fast Neutron Science

This section of the bill would direct DOE to construct a fast neutron-capable research facility, which is needed to test important reaction components, demonstrate such facilities’ safe and reliable operation, and ultimately license advanced reactor concepts. Currently, the only machines capable of producing a fast neutron spectrum are in Russia and China.


Advanced Nuclear Fuel Security Programs

This section of the bill would provide a minimum amount of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to U.S. developers until a long-term domestic supply is developed. It’d also facilitate the development of HALEU-appropriate transportation equipment. HALEU is needed for many advanced reactors, so a healthy domestic uranium mining, enrichment, and fuel fabrication capability that meets industry needs is a prerequisite for U.S. nuclear leadership.


University Nuclear Leadership Program

The section of the bill would create a university nuclear leadership program to develop a world-class, highly-skilled domestic workforce to develop, regulate, and safeguard the next generation of advanced reactors. These workers would be needed for the nuclear energy industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Impact

Universities; energy utilities; U.S. nuclear energy developers; U.S. nuclear energy researchers; federal power purchase agreements (PPAs); nuclear energy industry; DOE; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 903

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

“As we seek to maintain electric reliability, keep energy prices affordable, and address climate change, nuclear power stands out as one of our very best options. We once led the world in nuclear energy, but have surrendered that position to Russia and China. It is imperative that we reverse that trend and develop advanced nuclear technologies domestically. Our bipartisan bill will provide the tools, resources, and partnerships necessary to reestablish U.S. global leadership, and I thank my colleagues for sponsoring it with me.”

In an op-ed in the Juneau Empire, Sen. Murkowski argues that allowing U.S. nuclear leadership to decline has both economic and strategic consequences:

“[O]ur geostrategic competitors — China, Russia and others — have recognized nuclear energy’s immense potential and are blazing new paths to seize it. Operating from a position of strength, they are seizing the mantle of advanced reactor leadership for the coming decades. The decline in U.S. nuclear leadership has had a range of economic consequences for our nation. It has also diminished our ability to influence nuclear security and non-proliferation decisions. Allowing other nations to take our place could put world security interests at risk.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who’s seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, adds:

“It’s imperative for the United States to lead the way on tackling the world's climate crisis and that must include the development of clean and innovative technologies like next generation nuclear energy. This bipartisan bill will spur development of demonstration projects at the Department of Energy, which could become an important source of carbon free electricity generation.”

The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) supports this bill. Its president and CEO, Maria Korsnick, says:

“This legislation sends an unmistakable signal that the United States intends to re-commit itself as a global leader in clean, advanced nuclear technology. State-owned and state-sponsored developers in rival nations – especially China and Russia – are developing next-generation nuclear technology. For the American nuclear industry to compete globally, we must have significant collaboration among the federal government, our national labs and private industry to accelerate innovation. NELA provides the means for America to continue to lead in nuclear energy technology. We ask Congress to pass this legislation to help ensure the success of advanced nuclear technologies that will play a tremendous role in reaching a global clean energy future, while creating jobs and economic benefits.”

In a series of tweets, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates expressed his support for this bill:

"Yesterday, a bipartisan group of leaders in the US Senate introduced the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, which establishes an ambitious plan to accelerate the development of advanced nuclear reactor technologies. "I can't overstate how important this is. To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to reach near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it - agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings - by investing in innovation across all sectors while deploying low cost renewables. Nuclear energy is one of these critical technologies. It's ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that's available 24 hours a day. I'm thrilled that senators from both sides of the aisle have come together to support advanced nuclear. This is exactly the kind of leadership our country needs to both solve the climate challenge and reassert our leadership in this important industry.”

In his 2018 year-end blog post, Gates — who chairs the TerraPower LLC nuclear energy venture, which uses a traveling wave reactor — announced his intention to “speak out more” about the U.S.’ need to regain its leading role in nuclear power research. He wrote:

“Next year I will speak out more about how the U.S. needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research… Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation. The United States is uniquely suited to create these advances with its world-class scientists, entrepreneurs, and investment capital. Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago. To regain this position, it will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it’s serious… The world needs to be working on lots of solutions to stop climate change. Advanced nuclear is one, and I hope to persuade U.S. leaders to get into the game.”

This bill has 16 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including nine Republicans and seven Democrats. Last Congress, Sen. Murkowski introduced it with 10 Senate cosponsors, including seven Democrats and three Republicans, and it received a committee hearing but no committee vote.

This bill has the support of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and a coalition of nine advanced nuclear advocates, including: ClearPath Action, Third Way, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Clean Air Task Force, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, the American Nuclear Society, CRES Forum, the American Council for Capital Formation, and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).


Of NoteSen. Murkowski’s office notes that “advanced reactors are the next generation of breakthrough nuclear technologies,” with the ability to offer “significant advantages for power generation.” Some advanced reactors are smaller than today’s commercial reactors and able to provide increased reliability, reliability, and off-grid power. Others can “utilize exotic fuels, materials, and coolants to decrease the cost of delivered power or provide high-temperature process heat for industrial manufacturing.”

Ars Technica notes that “advanced nuclear reactors are next-generation technology that improve upon the large light-water reactors that are in use today,” which have struggled in the U.S. due to high costs and communities’ reluctance to accept new nuclear builds due to fears of reactor meltdowns and terrorist attacks.

However, regardless of whether advanced nuclear reactors are an improvement over light-water reactors, Ars Technica points out that nuclear waste remains an “unsolved problem” in the U.S. due to the lack of an official disposal site for commercial nuclear waste. While there are “technically feasible” solutions to this problem, it’s also been a politically intractable issue. Tellingly, this bill doesn’t have any provisions related to nuclear waste handling.

In 2016, the DOE estimated that U.S. jobs supporting advanced nuclear technology at home and abroad could reach up to $740 billion through 2026.

U.S. interest in and reliance on nuclear power has waned over the past few decades, allowing other countries to lead in innovation in the sector. High-profile incidents in the past, such as the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979, have contributed to public mistrust of nuclear energy. However, John Kotek, vice president of policy development and public affairs with the Nuclear Energy Institute trade group, believes that the increasing recognition of nuclear’s role in a clean energy system “could lead to passage of this bill and other legislation that helps create a pathway for advanced nuclear.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / bkindler)

AKA

Nuclear Energy Leadership Act

Official Title

A bill to direct the Secretary of Energy to establish advanced nuclear goals, provide for a versatile, reactor-based fast neutron source, make available high-assay, low-enriched uranium for research, development, and demonstration of advanced nuclear reactor concepts, and for other purposes.

    Absolutely NOT!
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    Use your brains for once. Why do we keep shooting yourselves in the foot. Wind, sun, tides, geothermal, natural gas and hydro done right are cheap once built and have zero nuclear waste. Where’s the downside? We should continue to research nonmilitary nuclear options for energy in space so we can escape, once we destroy our planet.
    Like (5)
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    Yes. I support this proposal.
    Like (2)
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    NUCLEAR ENGERGY IS TOO DANGEROUS--THREE MILE ISLAND, FUKUSHIMA, CHERNOBYL---THERE IS A REASON THESE PLACES HAVE A TERRIBLE MEANING! MY HUSBAND WORKED IN THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY--IT IS DANGEROUS AND THE DANGER NEVER GOES AWAY---EVER!!! AND EVER PIECE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL AND THE WATER USED TO COOL THE REACTORS CAN NEVER, EVER, BE RELEASED AGAIN--AND WE DO NOT HAVE GOOD ENOUGH FACILITIES TO STORE IT ALL--ONLY TEMPORARY ONES THAT HAVE BECOME PERMANENT BECAUSE CONGRESS NEVER VOTES THE FUNDS TO MAKE SECURE PERMANENT ENCLOSURES---AND THIS IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS---AND YOU WANT TO ADD TO THE DANGER??? ARE YOU ALL CRAZY??? DOES NO ONE HAVE A SINGLE WORKING BRAIN CELL IN CONGRESS???
    Like (2)
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    There are cleaner options besides nuclear. Until we have a feasible way to dispose of nuclear waste, this should stay off the table.
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    FUKUSHIMA IS STILL LEAKING RADIATION INTO THE PACIFIC OCEAN,THE US HAS NOT SECURE WAY OF STORING NUCLEAR WASTE,are we devolving here?
    Like (1)
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    We should push hard to bring to market nuclear technologies that produce waste that requires less than 100 years of containment
    Like (1)
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    Open Yucca Mountain, and get this done.
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    Nuclear is going to be the best, most sustainable option for the future. They are safe and more efficient than they had been before losing popularity. And while I'm for other renewable energy, options like solar are good for the environment if you ignore how they are made. Nuclear doesn't have that problem and we could power the entire country on them like France has done. This is the US, if France can do it, we should be able to do so as well
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    No more nuclear energy. Only coal powered power plants. I live less than 10 miles from 1 of these KILLERS that should have been SHUT down a long time ago.
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    Wind power is the safest, cleanest form of energy we've invented so far, but nuclear power is the SECOND safest and SECOND cleanest, and it has many advantages over wind, such as being available in different locations, being consistent despite the weather, and requiring far less deforestation and land, to produce far more energy. Nuclear should be the main component in our Green future.
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    Unless it's how to get rid of it safely
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    Listen to the people. Polls show the American people want clean and safe energy. We want our land clean and unpolluted.
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