House Approves Bills to Boost Nuclear Technology, Reshape National Labs' Management
A bill to speed approval of advanced nuclear technologies and another to change the way the Dept. of Energy’s national laboratories are managed are among a handful of energy measures the House has passed in the first weeks of its new session.
The Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act, which the House approved on Jan. 23, would create a licensing framework for advanced nuclear reactors. The systems could use coolants such as liquid metal, fluoride salt or gas. The House passed the same bill in the last Congress, but the Senate didn’t act on it. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the sponsor, is confident the Senate will take up his bill or a similar one in 2017, an aide says.
The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, authored by Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), is a similar measure to expedite nuclear technologies. It was included in legislation that the House cleared unanimously in January. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
On a Jan. 24 voice vote, the House passed legislation introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to revise the way DOE’s national laboratories are run. The bill, which had 20 co-sponsors at ENR press time, would remove technology barriers that limit private-sector interest and encourage the national labs to demonstrate potential commercial applications for their research and technologies, according to the bill’s text. The bill also includes a provision that directs the Energy Dept. to draft plans to build a new nuclear research facility.