Lawmakers press DFC to invest in nuclear

December 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter last week to Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging the agency to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

Signing the December 8 letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho).

Signers’ language: “Bipartisan support for advanced nuclear is based not only on its promise to reduce emissions and potential to deliver global clean energy at scale to support economic development but also on the understanding that U.S. global leadership in this field is vital to our core national security interests,” the senators wrote. “International demand for U.S. advanced nuclear technology has only intensified in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s severe energy crisis. Numerous countries, including some with 123 Agreements for peaceful cooperation firmly in place, are interested in partnering with the U.S. on advanced nuclear projects that could qualify for DFC support. Exporting new and advanced nuclear technologies like small modular and microreactors would support our allies’ growing energy security needs and allow DFC to meet its mandate to facilitate growth in lower-income countries. Further, prioritizing and deploying U.S. nuclear technologies complements our broader foreign policy objectives to counter Russian and Chinese efforts to use civil nuclear exports for their own political and economic ends.”

The full letter can be found here.

Background: Established in 2019, the DFC, according to its website, combines the capabilities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Development Credit Authority, “while introducing new and innovative financial products to better bring private capital to the developing world.”

Initially prohibited from financing nuclear energy projects, the DFC in July 2020 announced a change to its policy, enabling such support. At the time, then secretary of energy Dan Brouillette noted, “Over the past three years, Department of Energy officials have met with government and private industry around the world who are eager to import American civil nuclear technology, yet funding challenges prevented them from doing so as a result of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s legacy ban on financing of nuclear projects. Reversing this ban is a commonsense action that will increase global energy security and help other countries meet their own emissions reduction goals while providing their citizens with reliable baseload generation.”

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