WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives unanimously cleared S.97, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, for the President’s signature. Based on language originated by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas), the bill directs and authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to enable the American nuclear power industry to conduct civilian nuclear energy research and development that will advance our leadership in nuclear technology.

The bill was first introduced in Congress in 2015 by Weber alongside Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). 

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act is the result of four years of bipartisan collaboration and coordination with the DOE, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and private sector stakeholders. 

This legislation authorizes the research, facilities, and infrastructure necessary to help the development of new advanced nuclear reactors. It directs long-term research at DOE and authorizes a research reactor that will provide access to the fast neutrons necessary for advanced nuclear reactor technology.

The bill also establishes the National Reactor Innovation Center, which allows the testing and development of commercial advanced reactor prototypes at DOE sites. This will reduce the regulatory burden for a broad range of new reactor designs, encourage private sector leadership on the commercialization of these designs, and facilitate the growth of safe and reliable nuclear energy.

Chairman Smith:

“Nuclear power has been a proven source of safe and emission-free electricity for over half a century. This legislation encourages private sector innovation, helps to maintain American leadership in this field, and allows us to continue to advance reliable nuclear technology. I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”

Ranking Member Johnson:

“Implementing the provisions in this bill will help accelerate the development of advanced nuclear energy technologies that are safer, less expensive, more efficient, and produce less waste than the current generation of nuclear reactors. I hope that it will also help ensure a brighter future for the U.S. nuclear energy industry. This bill is a great example of what we can achieve when we leave politics at the door and look for common ground to address the challenges facing our nation’s research enterprise.”

Energy Subcommittee Chairman Weber:

“Access to fast neutrons affords us an opportunity to explore the crucial development of next generation reactor designs, materials, and nuclear fuels. The Versatile Neutron Source authorized in our bill gives our scientists and national labs the tools do just that.  We can’t afford to lose the ability to discover innovative nuclear technology here at home. America should lead the global marketplace. I’d like to thank Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, Senator Mike Crapo, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for their efforts as we advance our bill all the way to the President’s desk.”

The full text of the bill can be found here.