Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio) and Elaine Luria (D., N.Y.) have again teamed up to launch bipartisan pronuclear legislation in the House. On December 7, with Luria as cosponsor, Gonzalez unveiled the Accelerating Nuclear Innovation through Fee Reform Act (H.R. 6154), aimed at accelerating innovation and catalyzing private sector investment in advanced nuclear reactor technologies by eliminating Nuclear Regulatory Commission review fees for advanced reactor license applications, which could reach tens of millions of dollars, disincentivizing developers from bringing new technologies to market.
Gonzalez and Luria were also the sponsor and cosponsor, respectively, of the Twenty First Century Nuclear Security Act, introduced in June 2021. Luria was also one of 13 cosponsors of Gonzalez’s National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021, introduced in August.
A word from the sponsors: “If the U.S. wants to be a climate leader while remaining energy independent, nuclear energy has to play a pivotal role in our nation’s energy mix,” Gonzalez said. “Unfortunately, the current NRC fee model limits innovation by constraining the agency’s resources and discouraging nuclear innovators early in the project life cycle. By eliminating application fees for advanced fission and fusion reactors, we can yield enormous innovation benefits that create jobs, improve our nation’s security, and generate more emissions-free energy.”
Luria added, “Advanced nuclear is one of the most significant contributors to America’s clean energy future. We need to cut costs and red tape so that this technology can thrive. The Accelerating Innovation through Fee Reform Act will help jumpstart the advanced nuclear technology industry and promote clean energy growth in communities across the country.”
Fast reactors: The measure was quickly endorsed by the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, ClearPath Action, and Third Way. Stephen Burns, former NRC chairman and now a senior visiting fellow at Third Way, stated, “The bill helps foster technological innovation as new advanced reactor designs come forward for regulatory approval. It also helps the NRC innovate and adapt its licensing process without undue focus on the fee system as the NRC reviews these new designs and works toward establishing a technology-neutral framework as required by NEIMA.”
The main goals of NEIMA—the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, signed into law by President Trump in January 2019—are to modernize the NRC’s functions by establishing a new budget and fee recovery structure and to develop a revised licensing framework for advanced reactors.