Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Jim Risch (R., Idaho) recently introduced the International Nuclear Energy Act of 2022, a measure aimed at developing a strategy to counter the growing influence of Russia and China on the global civil nuclear export market.
Manchin is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Risch is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Bill basics: The legislation, according to the lawmakers, would:
- Establish an office to coordinate civil nuclear exports strategy, establish financing relationships, promote regulatory harmonization, enhance safeguards and security, promote standardization of licensing framework, and create an export working group.
- Create programs to facilitate international nuclear energy cooperation to develop financing relationships, training, education, market analysis, safety, security, safeguards, and nuclear governance required for a civil nuclear program.
- Require two biennial summits, one focused on nuclear safety, security, and safeguards and the other for civil nuclear vendors to enhance cooperative relationships between private industry and government.
- Establish a strategic infrastructure fund working group to determine how to best structure a fund to finance projects critical to national security.
- Create fast-track procedures for civil nuclear exports.
- Expand the Export-Import Bank program on transformational exports to include civil nuclear facilities and related goods.
- Create a nuclear fuels security initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate reliance on Chinese and Russian nuclear fuels.
A word from the sponsors: “We must not turn a blind eye as China and Russia aggressively use their state owned and operated civil nuclear programs as coercive tools to the detriment of other nations’ energy security and our global nonproliferation efforts,” Manchin said. “The United States must be proactive in confronting these geopolitical threats, not only for our national security but also for the entire free world. Our bipartisan bill establishes an Office for Nuclear Energy Policy to engage with our allies and industry partners to offset Chinese and Russian influence and reduce our reliance on nuclear fuels from these and other adversarial nations.”
“Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has only highlighted the importance of energy security,” Risch added. “This bill takes significant steps to reestablish American leadership in nuclear energy, both at home and abroad, which is critical to ensuring the security of energy supplies for ourselves and our allies, global standards for nonproliferation and other national security interests, and economic growth. This bill also seeks to ensure we can provide nuclear energy solutions to countries that might otherwise pursue Russian or Chinese nuclear plants. We must act quickly to advance a new era of clean American energy production.”
Industry’s take: Maria Korsnick, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said, “The Manchin-Risch bill includes important provisions that will facilitate the deployment of U.S. nuclear energy technologies to partner nations, generating American jobs and extending U.S. influence in nuclear safety, nonproliferation, and security.”