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senate Bill S. 903

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

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.

jimK's Opinion
···
05/24/2019
I favor studying the new concepts for smaller, much safer, more localized nuclear power- mainly as another tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in case we cannot for some reason, meet requisite greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. I oppose building the mega scale plants with huge concentrations of core material and complex interacting control equipment and systems that depend heavily on operator interpretation and difficult costly maintenance. Mega-scale plants also generate massive amounts of difficult to manage radiated waste. I think He3 fusion reactors have the greatest potential with the least risk if we can gather enough He3 to build one- and should be studied. Test reactors need to be evaluated and then heavily, heavily be monitored and regulated according to coalition guidelines and regulators. Are their security, siting, and waste management Issues. Yes, but none of those factors contribute to greenhouse gases and can ultimately be resolved.
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burrkitty's Opinion
···
09/05/2019
Of all major energy sources, nuclear is the safest. That’s reality. The culturally imbedded irrational fear of nuclear power is radically out of proportion to the actual risk. 100,000 people a year die from pollution from coal fired power plants. As for the radiation from the Fukushima power plant? One. Markandya, A., & Wilkinson, P. (2007). Electricity generation and health. The Lancet, 370(9591), 979-990 Lelieveld, J., Evans, J. S., Fnais, M., Giannadaki, D., & Pozzer, A. (2015). The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature, 525(7569), 367-371. Weber, W., & Zanzonico, P. (2017). The controversial linear no-threshold model. Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 58(1), 7-8 Kharecha, P. A., & Hansen, J. E. (2013). Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power. Environmental science & technology, 47(9), 4889-4895. Office for Nuclear Regulation (2015). Basic principles of radioactive waste management. Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste (2016). Nuclear Waste State-of-the-Art Report 2016 Risks, uncertainties and future challenges. International Atomic Energy Agency. Storage and Disposal of Spent Fuel and High Level Radioactive Waste. McMichael, A. J., Woodruff, R. E., & Hales, S. (2006). Climate change and human health: present and future risks. The Lancet, 367(9513), 859-869. Kharecha, P. and Hansen, J. (2013) Coal and gas are far more harmful than nuclear power. Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. World Health Organization. Ambient Air Pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. World Health Organization. 1–131 (2016).
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Kevin's Opinion
···
09/05/2019
Nuclear is the future. We must find better ways to transport and store waste, but it is the most efficient source for mass power use. It is also clean and minimally harms the environment. It does scare some people but perfecting this technology(especially fusion) will serve mankind better than any other source of energy. We are a technological world and must learn to master and not fear our resources.
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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.

NoHedges's Opinion
···
09/05/2019
No, because there are no specifications in this Republican sponsored bill as to who/with whom America would be collaborating with. Republicans have proven to be inept and untrustworthy when it comes to the safeguarding of our National Security. Until Republicans step up and show this nation they can be trusted to PROACTIVELY safeguard this nation’s national security, I see no reason to grant them further opportunities to undermine it. For all we know, this is simply Republicans way of assisting Putin in working out the kinks in his latest nuclear missile. Or... Erdogan says it's unacceptable that Turkey can't have nuclear weapons Besides Glowurm is right, Alaska is being raped by both parties repeatedly. I still haven’t forgiven the Dems for pushing Bill Walker out of office. And now there is Republican who will more than likely seek to establish an international pipeline... reverse the damn King Cove land exchange.
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Glowurm's Opinion
···
05/02/2019
Absolutely NOT! As an Alaskan, I trust NOTHING WTH LIES-A’S name on it! She sold her soul to the devil years ago. Ditto for Young and wet-behind-the-ears, Sullivan. All they care about is THEIR bottom line, not the destruction their decisions make. They rape our land by giving it to mining and oil interests, while the people get a pittance in return. Our State is having hard times because they keep giving them outrageously low tax rates. It is killing our State, yet they will not budge. May they rot...
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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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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.

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
    I favor studying the new concepts for smaller, much safer, more localized nuclear power- mainly as another tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in case we cannot for some reason, meet requisite greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. I oppose building the mega scale plants with huge concentrations of core material and complex interacting control equipment and systems that depend heavily on operator interpretation and difficult costly maintenance. Mega-scale plants also generate massive amounts of difficult to manage radiated waste. I think He3 fusion reactors have the greatest potential with the least risk if we can gather enough He3 to build one- and should be studied. Test reactors need to be evaluated and then heavily, heavily be monitored and regulated according to coalition guidelines and regulators. Are their security, siting, and waste management Issues. Yes, but none of those factors contribute to greenhouse gases and can ultimately be resolved.
    Like (60)
    Follow
    Share
    No, because there are no specifications in this Republican sponsored bill as to who/with whom America would be collaborating with. Republicans have proven to be inept and untrustworthy when it comes to the safeguarding of our National Security. Until Republicans step up and show this nation they can be trusted to PROACTIVELY safeguard this nation’s national security, I see no reason to grant them further opportunities to undermine it. For all we know, this is simply Republicans way of assisting Putin in working out the kinks in his latest nuclear missile. Or... Erdogan says it's unacceptable that Turkey can't have nuclear weapons Besides Glowurm is right, Alaska is being raped by both parties repeatedly. I still haven’t forgiven the Dems for pushing Bill Walker out of office. And now there is Republican who will more than likely seek to establish an international pipeline... reverse the damn King Cove land exchange.
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    Of all major energy sources, nuclear is the safest. That’s reality. The culturally imbedded irrational fear of nuclear power is radically out of proportion to the actual risk. 100,000 people a year die from pollution from coal fired power plants. As for the radiation from the Fukushima power plant? One. Markandya, A., & Wilkinson, P. (2007). Electricity generation and health. The Lancet, 370(9591), 979-990 Lelieveld, J., Evans, J. S., Fnais, M., Giannadaki, D., & Pozzer, A. (2015). The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale. Nature, 525(7569), 367-371. Weber, W., & Zanzonico, P. (2017). The controversial linear no-threshold model. Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 58(1), 7-8 Kharecha, P. A., & Hansen, J. E. (2013). Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power. Environmental science & technology, 47(9), 4889-4895. Office for Nuclear Regulation (2015). Basic principles of radioactive waste management. Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste (2016). Nuclear Waste State-of-the-Art Report 2016 Risks, uncertainties and future challenges. International Atomic Energy Agency. Storage and Disposal of Spent Fuel and High Level Radioactive Waste. McMichael, A. J., Woodruff, R. E., & Hales, S. (2006). Climate change and human health: present and future risks. The Lancet, 367(9513), 859-869. Kharecha, P. and Hansen, J. (2013) Coal and gas are far more harmful than nuclear power. Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. World Health Organization. Ambient Air Pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. World Health Organization. 1–131 (2016).
    Like (40)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely NOT! As an Alaskan, I trust NOTHING WTH LIES-A’S name on it! She sold her soul to the devil years ago. Ditto for Young and wet-behind-the-ears, Sullivan. All they care about is THEIR bottom line, not the destruction their decisions make. They rape our land by giving it to mining and oil interests, while the people get a pittance in return. Our State is having hard times because they keep giving them outrageously low tax rates. It is killing our State, yet they will not budge. May they rot...
    Like (21)
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    Share
    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 (19)
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    I am concerned about security issues with this bill.
    Like (15)
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    Nuclear is the future. We must find better ways to transport and store waste, but it is the most efficient source for mass power use. It is also clean and minimally harms the environment. It does scare some people but perfecting this technology(especially fusion) will serve mankind better than any other source of energy. We are a technological world and must learn to master and not fear our resources.
    Like (12)
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    Although this seems like a good idea, I can see a pharma-insurance coordination that would place energy at the whim of politicians, kickbacks, price gouging, and energy becoming a civilian dependency on whatever the conglomeration would birth.
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    I have mixed feelings about this. I would feel better if nuclear waste was better managed.
    Like (8)
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    What do you do with the waste? How do you handle an accident?
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    1. Nuclear energy is clean? Where do we put the spent fuel? What do we do with the reactor at the end of the forty years? Could this be a target for terrorists? Are the earth quake proof (Japan)? Are they human proof (Russia)? Changing from 10 years to 40 years include maintenance? Solar, tidal, hydroelectric, and wind are cleaner sources.
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    Industry would only corrupt what research might discover and conclude.
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    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. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 9.5.19.....
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    I support the Senators bill on nuclear energy and power research and innovation. We must continue to modernize our nuclear power plants and remove roadblocks to building them while protecting our citizens from breakdowns like 3 mile island. #MAGA
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    we need to stop advancing the lie that nuclear is a clean energy. It is not.
    Like (5)
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    I too would not invest in nuclear energy until we have a way to store the spent fuel rods.
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    Thorium reactors are smaller, safer, and can readily be adapted as localized power stations.
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    The designs of nuclear reactors for power generation have come a long way, are safe, and don’t have the issues with spent fuel that older designs have. With the push toward electric cars, we’re going to need a huge increase in electrical power generation. Safe nuclear reactors are the best way to achieve this.
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    Yes. I support this proposal.
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    Interesting how the new green deal representatives never bring up nuclear power??? It’s been around for decades. Pretty safe, clean and abundant. But their agenda has no room for this particular energy source. France has had nuclear energy for decades. Why not America???
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