State of US Nuclear Energy Examined in Senate Hearing

May 3, 2019

by ASME.org

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources recently held a hearing on U.S. Leadership in Nuclear Energy and to receive testimony on the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA). NELA is a bipartisan bill introduced in March that directs the Department of Energy to develop a ten-year Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan, and ensure availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium to be used in advanced nuclear reactors.

A common theme throughout the hearing was the U.S’ waning leadership on the global stage in nuclear technology. Dr. Mark Peters, director of the Idaho National Laboratory noted that the U.S’ “nuclear energy leadership role has been allowed to atrophy. A variety of factors-high capital costs, the long time frame if licensing and construction, subsidies for other forms of electricity generation, the low cost of natural gas, and our inability to deal with waste and used fuel-has led to premature nuclear plant closures and abandonment of new projects.”

Strong focus was also paid to NELA. All those providing testimony noted that NELA will help advance U.S. nuclear technologies by setting aggressive goals and establishing important safeguards within the nuclear technology industry that will allow for continued U.S. leadership. In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Murkowski quoted International Energy Agency Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol as stating that the bill will help address “many of the innovation and investment challenges nuclear power currently faces, and boost strategic cooperation between the government, private sector and academic institutions.”

To view an archived webcast of the briefing in full, click here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?ID=588FE47B-C329-42B9-968F-B7B8708E32EA&utm_medium=email&utm_source=FYI&dm_i=1ZJN,69AFV,E29O8W,OOELZ,1