House committee marks up Energy and Water Development bill

July 14, 2020, 2:52PMNuclear News

The House Appropriations Committee held its full committee markup of the Energy and Water Development bill on July 13. (The Bill Report provides a more detailed funding breakdown.) The final bill passed the committee by a party line vote of 30-21. No schedule for Floor consideration of the bill has been set, but it is likely to happen next week or the week after.

Nuclear waste: Ranking member Mike Simpson (R., Idaho) and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) expressed disappointment that the legislation fails to address permanent nuclear waste storage. No amendment was offered to the markup, however. Committee chair Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio) said that nuclear waste is an important issue that must be dealt with and stated that the bill is a “change in the proper direction,” referring to interim storage funding provisions within the bill.

Below are fiscal year 2021 funding and report language highlights. In addition to the actual bill, there is a $43.5B stimulus supplemental title within the bill.

Funding highlights:

$40m for civil nuclear enrichment

$30m for joint modeling and simulation

$99m for accident tolerant fuels (ATF)

$34m for TRISO fuel and graphite qualification

$62.5 for used nuclear fuel disposition R&D

$25m for an integrated waste management system

$105m for advanced small modular reactor

$47m for light-water reactor sustainability ($10m of which is to support hydrogen demonstration projects)

$65m for the Versatile Test Reactor project

$30m for the National Reactor Innovation Center

$240m for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP)

No funding included for transformational challenge reactor

No funding for establishment of uranium reserve

NRC report language:

Transformation Initiative—The committee directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue to provide regular briefings to the committee on the status of the transformation initiative, beginning no later than 90 days after enactment of the bill.

Reactor Oversight and Safety—The NRC is directed to continue to provide regular briefings to the committee on the NRC’s current reactor oversight and safety program, and on any proposed changes before they are implemented.

Mitigation of Beyond-Design-Basis Events Rule—The FY2020 Act directed the NRC to provide a briefing detailing its plans to ensure that nuclear reactors are adequately protected from the modern-day flooding and seismic hazards facing nuclear power plants. The committee is still awaiting this briefing and has directed the NRC to provide this briefing not later than 60 days after enactment of the bill.

International Activities—International activities, not including the resources for import and export licensing, are funded as fee-relief activities and are excluded from fee recovery in accordance with the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (Public Law 115–439).

Integrated University Program—The committee recommendation includes $16m to provide financial support for the university education programs, as the NRC continues to be reliant on a pipeline of highly trained nuclear engineers and scientists and benefits substantially from this university program. Of this amount, $5.5m is to be used for grants to support research projects that do not align with programmatic missions but are critical to maintaining the discipline of nuclear science and engineering.

Budget Execution Plan—The NRC is to provide a specific budget execution plan to the committee no later than 30 days after enactment of the bill. The plan is to include details at the product-line level within each of the control points.

Rulemaking—The NRC shall list all planned rulemaking activities, including its priority, schedule, and actions taken to adhere to the Backfit Rule (10 CFR 50.109), in the annual budget request and the semi-annual report to Congress on licensing and regulatory activities.

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