Shortly before the end of the year, on December 20 and 21, 2018, the Senate and House passed the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, meant to encourage the development of commercial advanced nuclear reactor facilities. It was presented to President Trump for his signature on January 2, 2019.
The bill directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to make its licensing process more predictable and efficient, and directs the Department of Energy to provide cost sharing grants that help license applicants fund NRC review fees. It also directs the NRC to “develop a new technology-inclusive, regulatory framework” by end-2024 that “encourages greater technological innovation for the advanced nuclear reactor program.”
The bill, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, is being lauded as speeding the path of advanced nuclear technologies to market. Environmental groups that see nuclear power as part of the solution to climate change have lauded the bill.
Its passage comes on the heels of the passage of the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, which was signed by the President in late September 2018, and instructs the Department of Energy to create programs that foster research and development of advanced nuclear reactor technologies.