President Donald Trump signed the new Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act into law on December 14, making it the second nuclear power support bill that the president has signed since taking office.
The new bill is primarily focused on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), directing the agency to “modify” it licensing process for commercial advanced nuclear reactors in efforts to streamline the procedures. “The NRC must implement a licensing process that is designed to be predictable and efficient while conforming to existing NRC regulatory guidelines,” says a synopsis of the bill released by Congress. “The Department of Energy must provide cost sharing grants to license applicants for the purpose of funding a portion of the NRC review fees,” which make up the lion’s share of the NRC’s operating budget. The new bill also mandates the NRC enhance transparency through a new “technology-inclusive, regulatory framework by the end of 2024 that encourages greater technological innovation for the advanced nuclear reactor program.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, received a strong endorsement from the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Congress passed the bill on Dec. 18 of last year. Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the NEI said the bill “establishes a more equitable and transparent funding structure which will benefit all operating reactors and future licensees.”
The law also directs the NRC to find ways to streamline uranium licensing in part by mandating uranium recovery licenses to last for twenty years, double the current practice of issuing 10-year licenses. The DOE is also asked to produce a plan that would focus on managing the country’s any excess uranium inventories. The DOE must submit a report on its uranium inventory management every 10 years, according to the new law.
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