Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) on July 29 released a draft bill to revitalize the United States’ nuclear sector—the same day that GOP colleagues in the House introduced similar legislation. According to the senator, the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 (ANIA) would enable U.S. international leadership, preserve America’s uranium supply chain, reduce carbon emissions, and strengthen the nation’s economic, energy, and national security. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, of which Barrasso is chairman, is scheduled to hold a legislative hearing on the draft on August 5.
Specifics: Among other things, ANIA would do the following:
Empower the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactor designs.
Codify the Trump administration’s proposal to provide the NRC the authority to deny imports of Russian and Chinese nuclear fuel on national security grounds.
Create a prize to incentivize the successful licensing process for next-generation nuclear technologies and fuels.
Require the NRC to identify and update regulatory barriers to enable advanced nuclear technologies.
Authorize a targeted credit program to preserve nuclear plants at risk of premature retirement.
Authorize a uranium reserve to ensure that the United States does not lose the capacity to fuel its nuclear reactors with domestically produced fuel.
Barrasso on the bill: “The American Nuclear Infrastructure Act will strengthen both our energy and national security interests,” Barrasso said. “Nuclear power is clean and reliable. The draft legislation supports the continued operation of our existing reactors and helps get innovative technologies up and running. It also ensures the nuclear fuel that powers our homes and businesses comes from trusted sources. Wyoming produces more uranium than any other state. The Russians flood the market with cheap uranium to undercut Wyoming’s producers. We can’t put America’s energy security into the hands of our adversaries. This draft bill creates a national uranium reserve, so America can always have the fuel it needs.”