H.R. 431, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017
Related legislation S.97 became Public Law No: 115-248
This legislation directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize research and development (R&D) infrastructure that will enable the private sector to invest in advanced reactor technologies and provides a clear path forward to attract private investment for prototype development at DOE labs.
DOE carries out civilian nuclear energy R&D through the DOE labs and universities which provide research infrastructure and employ highly trained scientists to maintain the nation’s critical R&D capabilities. The U.S. regulatory system, managed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), creates a barrier to investment for advanced reactor technologies because it is ill-equipped to process licenses in a timely and predictable manner, which further suppresses private investment and technology development.
Summary of Major Provisions
Amends DOE’s civilian nuclear energy R&D mission to ensure that the Department enables the private sector to partner with national labs for the purpose of developing novel reactor concepts.
Provides programmatic authority for DOE to leverage its supercomputing infrastructure to accelerate nuclear energy R&D capabilities for advanced reactor technologies.
Provides statutory direction for a DOE reactor-based versatile neutron source that will operate as an open-access user facility and enable researchers to conduct academic and proprietary research in the United States.
Authorizes DOE to enable the private sector to construct and operate privately-funded reactor prototypes at DOE sites.
Requires DOE to put forth a transparent, strategic, 10-year plan for prioritizing nuclear R&D programs while considering budget constraints.
Cosponsors include Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).