Barrasso: Wyoming will be Home to Groundbreaking Advanced Nuclear Reactor

June 2, 2021

Click here to watch Senator Barrasso’s remarks.  

CHEYENNE, WY — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at an event to announce that TerraPower will build its first Natrium advanced nuclear reactor in the state of Wyoming.

The announcement event was hosted by Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. Along with Barrasso, participants in the event included Bill Gates, the founder of TerraPower; Chris Levesque, the president and CEO of TerraPower; U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm; and Gary Hoogeveen, the president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power. 

Barrasso has been a major supporter of nuclear innovation. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, he introduced and enacted bipartisan legislation to support the development of advanced nuclear reactors. The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) was signed into law in January of 2019. NEIMA requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to establish a regulatory framework for America’s innovators, who seek to develop, license, and deploy advanced nuclear reactors and other technologies. This new regulatory framework will help support innovation in the nuclear energy sector.    

To watch the announcement event, click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thank you, Gary.

“Well it is a historic day for Wyoming today.

“Thanks to Bill Gates, TerraPower, PacifiCorp, Rocky Mountain Power.

“Thanks to Berkshire Hathaway Energy and of course to Secretary Granholm. 

“We mostly thank you, governor, and thanks to the members of the legislature who have made this possible with what you’ve done with legislation, and your leadership, governor, on this project. 

“Wyoming is the energy capital of America.

“We’ve kept the lights on for our country.

“We’ve powered our economy for decades and decades and decades. 

“That’s not going to change. 

“We have all of the energy sources here. 

“We have everything – oil, gas, coal, the renewables, and of course, uranium for nuclear power. 

“The country is going to continue to depend on Wyoming energy for decades and decades to come. 

“Our families who live here are going to benefit from those jobs and the communities in which they live are going to benefit as well. 

“Wyoming is the number one producer of uranium in the country. 

“Now we are going to be able to use some of that uranium right here in Wyoming. 

“I am delighted to be here to celebrate this remarkable day with these folks who are going to bring the Natrium advanced nuclear power to Wyoming. 

“They have done a lot of work. 

“Wyoming is the right place. 

“This is another way to diversify our already strong energy economy.

“This is going to be the first one. 

“The energy is going to be affordable, reliable, and carbon-free. 

“This is what innovation and energy innovation looks like in America. 

“The legislation that I was able to have passed in a bipartisan way, with big votes, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, really makes a difference in terms of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission being able to approve a bill like this. 

“President Trump signed it into law in 2019. 

“The reactors are smaller, safer – less nuclear waste. 

“This is the future of nuclear energy in America compared to what we’ve been doing over the last 65 years with the energy being clean, affordable, reliable, safe. 

“I was coming in today and drove by Storey Gym. 

“It reminded me of the time Ronald Reagan spoke there.

“Reagan was there with his white cowboy hat on, and that guy could wear a cowboy hat. 

“He was there with Al Simpson and Dick Cheney, Malcolm Wallop, the congressional delegation. 

“Cliff Hansen was the governor. The thing he loved about Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West is that people here still believe the future is ours to shape. 

“That’s what we are doing here today – we are shaping the future for Wyoming. 

“It’s a big day for Wyoming. 

“Here in Wyoming, we always believe that our best days are still ahead. 

“Thanks so much for letting me join you today.” 

Background Information: 

Nuclear power is America’s largest source of carbon-free energy, supplying nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. 

On January 14, 2019, President Trump signed Barrasso’s legislation, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) into law. The Act exempts nuclear innovators from paying for the development of NRC regulations to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies. It also mandates that the NRC establish, by December 31, 2027, a technology-inclusive regulatory framework for the purpose of licensing advanced nuclear reactors. Among other things, the framework must increase the use of risk-informed, performance-based licensing evaluation techniques and guidance. 

On November 17, 2020, Barrasso along with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan legislation to revitalize the United States’ nuclear infrastructure. S. 4897, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020, will enable U.S. international leadership, preserve America’s nuclear fuel supply chain, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen our economic, energy, and national security. On December 2, 2020, EPW reported the bill favorably by a vote of 16 to 5.