This week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va.-2, led 29 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, urging them to include the text of the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (S. 903/H.R. 3306) in the final Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Provisions of this bipartisan bill have been included in the Senate’s NDAA and the House of Representatives’ Clean Economy and Jobs Innovation Act.
“The United States can be a strategic clean energy leader through the development of innovative nuclear technologies,” said Senator Murkowski. “The Department of Defense would be able to deploy advanced microreactors to bolster reliability, resilience, and security. Homes, schools, and businesses could switch to clean, safe, and more affordable power. This letter demonstrates that there is broad bipartisan and bicameral support for advanced nuclear energy, and all of us want to make the most of this policymaking opportunity.”
“As a naval surface warfare officer who operated nuclear reactors on aircraft carriers, I know that the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act will safeguard national security,” said Congresswoman Luria. “By building a thriving nuclear workforce with expertise in defense-critical areas, our nation can once again become a leader in nuclear energy. I strongly urge the NDAA conferees to include this bipartisan legislation in the final conference report.”
The bill has seven key sections designed to jumpstart innovation in advanced nuclear energy:
- Establishing a nationwide strategy for nuclear science and engineering research and development;
- Providing for at least two advanced nuclear reactor demonstration projects, to be completed by the end of 2025;
- Revising federal energy contracting authority so that the government can enter into Power Purchase Agreements for up to 40 years, better reflecting the length of time that nuclear power offers a return on investment;
- Starting a pilot program for a long-term nuclear Power Purchase Agreement featuring breakthrough, first-of-its-kind nuclear technology;
- Requiring the Department of Energy to provide a source for fast-neutron research, which will be key for testing advanced nuclear concepts;
- Creating a program to begin supplying reactors with High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU), fuel which will be needed for many advanced reactor designs; and
- Establishing a University Nuclear Leadership Program to provide scholarships and funding for students pursuing studies in nuclear science.
Click here to read the letter.