Nuclear Energy Leadership Act is Critical to America’s Long-Term Energy Security and Global Leadership in Energy and Environment

BPC Action commends Sens. Murkowski (R-AK) and Booker (D-NJ) for introducing the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), which is essential for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactor designs; a long-term strategic direction for federal nuclear energy research; and the establishment of domestic fuel supply chains critical to America’s long-term energy security and global leadership.

The U.S. has long been a leader in nuclear energy technology. To date, nuclear energy has made and continues to make significant contributions to our energy security and economic growth, providing 20 percent of total U.S. electricity and 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity in 2017, in addition to contributing $60 billion to U.S. GDP. Currently, U.S. industry faces challenges that are impeding the ability to develop the next generation of nuclear energy technologies, in contrast to nations like Russia and China, which are accelerating the development of advanced nuclear energy technology and infrastructure. This has significant implications for U.S. national security since we rely on these and other nations to enrich uranium to certain levels and produce fast neutrons – processes essential to produce nuclear energy and test advanced reactors, but for which there are currently no domestic facilities.

The bipartisan NELA bill aims to reassert America’s leadership in this vital industry by facilitating the development of advanced nuclear energy technology and the infrastructure necessary to support it. Notably, NELA would:

  • Establish a pilot program at the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a long-term contract for a first-of-its-kind advanced reactor; 
  • Set a long-term strategic vision for nuclear energy research needs at DOE; 
  • Establish a domestic fast neutron research facility; 
  • Allow DOE to provide high-assay low-enriched uranium from its stockpiles to advanced reactor developers until a long-term domestic commercial supply is developed; and 
  • Create a university nuclear leadership program to strengthen the U.S. nuclear energy workforce.

The U.S. government and industry have demonstrated time and again how they can partner together to develop game-changing energy technologies that enable the U.S. to become an international leader in nuclear energy. The provisions in NELA would facilitate these crucial partnerships to spur the development of the next generation of nuclear energy technologies and ensure America’s continued leadership.

BPC Action stands ready to get NELA over the finish line and looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to make progress on these crucial issues.