GOP lawmakers push to lower regulatory hurdles for small nuclear firms

October 5, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News


Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) has introduced legislation in the House to help U.S. small businesses engaged or seeking to engage in the research, development, and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.

Dubbed the Nuclear Assistance for America’s Small Businesses Act, the bill debuted September 29 with 10 of Donalds’s fellow House Republicans as cosponsors: Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Florida’s Maria Elvira Salazar, Georgia’s Buddy Carter, North Carolina’s Dan Bishop and Ted Budd, Ohio’s Bob Latta, South Carolina’s Nancy Mace, Tennessee’s Chuck Fleischmann and John Rose, and Texas’s Chip Roy.

Bill basics: The measure would amend the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to allow small businesses to delay 50 percent of their preapplication fees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as 35 percent of their postapplication fees over a period of 10 years.

(NEIMA was signed by President Trump on January 14, 2019, following its bipartisan passage in Congress the previous month. Its main goals 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.)

Words from the sponsor: “As a champion for representing small businesses around our great nation, I’m proud to introduce this bill to ultimately level the playing field for small businesses that seek to get involved in the advanced nuclear industry,” said Donalds in an October 4 statement. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s current application review process and the fees associated with agency engagement are the epitome of burdensome government barriers that disincentivize small business participation and nuclear innovation. This bill will assist small businesses by providing them with the option to defer a portion of their accumulated NRC fees until after their application review process concludes. I’m thankful for my colleagues for supporting this important piece of legislation.”

Our take: “We applaud this effort to lower the barriers for small businesses to engage with the NRC in licensing activities,” stated ANS executive director/CEO Craig Piercy. “We believe it will accelerate the rollout of advanced nuclear technologies to address our fundamental energy and environmental challenges.”

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