Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act Passes the Senate, Minus a Nuclear Reactor Provision

Aug 3, 2018

The Senate recently passed the House “Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act” by voice vote. In voting on the legislation, the Senate agreed to remove a provision that requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to build a “reactor-based fast neutron source, which shall operate as a national user facility.” The original provision required this facility to be completed by 2025.

The Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act provides the DOE with a policy framework for basic science research, nuclear energy research and development (R&D), research coordination and priorities, and changes to make the national laboratories more efficient and manageable. The legislation itself pulls language from several other pieces of legislation that were passed in the last congress, including the DOE Lab Modernization and Technology Transfer Act, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, and the Electricity Storage Innovation Act. It is broken down into four “titles” or sections:

  • Title I—Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer: Allows national labs more flexibility to partner with the private sector.
  • Title II—DOE Research Coordination: Reauthorizes a Strategic Research Portfolio Analysis, which will make it easier to identify areas for collaboration in science and applied research programs.
  • Title III—DOE Office of Science Policy: Outlines direction and priorities for basic research programs within the Office of Science, including the specific authorization of basic research programs in solar fuels, electricity storage, exascale computing and low dose radiation.
  • Title IV—Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities: Authorizes nuclear R&D activities at DOE

Now that the Senate has approved the House version of the bill, the House must accept the bill with the changes made by the Senate, or send it back. If the House approves the bill in its current form, it will go to the President.

To view the bill in its current form, click here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/589/