Report: Better public engagement needed from NRC

March 12, 2024, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new report from the Breakthrough Institute has identified challenges and offers recommendations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for fostering inclusive and transparent dialogue and engagement with the public.

Improving Nuclear Regulatory Commission Engagement: Enhancement to Ensure Transparency and Collaboration with the Public notes that despite recent agency efforts at improving public engagement, such as through website upgrades and additional community meetings, the NRC still tends to prioritize technical jargon and complex procedures rather than offer clear, accessible communication. This leads to alienating the interested public, including community members and other stakeholders, and fostering misconceptions.

Groups urge action on EP rule for advanced reactors

August 7, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Five pronuclear organizations—the Breakthrough Institute, Clean Air Task Force, ClearPath, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, and Third Way—have together penned a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling on the agency to take action on its emergency preparedness for advanced reactors rule—which, despite the explosion of interest in these technologies over the past few years, has yet to be finalized.

Lawmakers ask NRC to “carefully review” Part 53 language

July 18, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

A large, bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers last Friday wrote a letter to the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission urging them “to carefully review and modify as necessary” the 10 CFR Part 53 draft licensing framework for advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

ANS Annual Meeting: Promoting the common defense and security

June 23, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News
ANS immediate past president Steven Arndt, Jeffrey Merrifield, and John Kotek on stage at the ANS annual meeting President's Plenary.

At the 2023 ANS Annual Meeting, Steven Arndt (as of the close of the meeting, ANS immediate past president) led a president’s session on the mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—a not particularly surprising topic, given that he spent over 30 years at the agency in various roles.

Coalition urges Senate to oppose renomination of NRC commissioner Baran

June 23, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Baran (Photo: NRC)

A coalition of environmental organizations supporting regulatory and legislative change to accelerate the licensing and deployment of new advanced nuclear reactors in the United States spoke out on June 20 against the renomination of Jeff Baran to serve another five-year term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The groups—Build Nuclear Now, the Breakthrough Institute, Generation Atomic, Nuclear New York, and Green Nuclear Deal—pointed to Baran’s pattern of actions that the groups say contradict his claimed support for bipartisan solutions to modernize the country’s nuclear energy infrastructure.

The groups noted that despite those repeated claims before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee conducted as part of his 2018 and 2023 confirmations to the NRC, Baran’s record shows his vote consistently being the sole vote against reasonable steps to improve the efficiency of the NRC’s regulations, hindering the deployment of new nuclear.

Breakthrough Institute pushes Build Nuclear Now campaign

June 15, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Breakthrough Institute, a nuclear-friendly environmental research center based in Berkeley, Calif., has announced the launch of mobilization efforts for its Build Nuclear Now project, in partnership with the similarly minded groups Stand Up for Nuclear, Generation Atomic, Mothers for Nuclear, Nuclear New York, and Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal.

Breakthrough Institute tells NRC to “go back to the drawing board” with Part 53 rule

December 19, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Breakthrough Institute’s analysis of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft proposal to modernize licensing regulations for advanced reactors has concluded that the latest proposed 10 CFR Part 53 rule language ”largely replicates the failed licensing rules that have hobbled the legacy nuclear industry for decades.”

A summary of the analysis, written by Ted Nordhaus, the Breakthrough Institute’s founder and executive director, and Adam Stein, the institute’s director for nuclear energy innovation, observes that the “draft framework is twice as long as either of the legacy, prescriptive licensing frameworks, Part 50 and 52, that it is intended to supplant. That is because the staff largely cut and pasted the old rules into the new framework, then added further burdensome regulations, including qualitative health objectives that cannot be complied with and expanded requirements for the notorious ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ radiation standard, a further invitation to endlessly ratchet regulatory requirements.”

Study: Advanced reactors could play major role in U.S. clean energy future

July 6, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

With the proper investment and policy support, advanced nuclear energy has the potential to become a key component of a future U.S. clean energy system, a new report from Berkeley, Calif.’s, Breakthrough Institute finds.

Released this morning, the 155-page Advancing Nuclear Energy: Evaluating Deployment, Investment, and Impact in America’s Clean Energy employs “a high-resolution nationwide model of the United States electricity sector to demonstrate how advanced nuclear reactors might play a major role in a least-cost plan to transition the power grid entirely to clean energy sources by 2050, assuming that the first advanced reactors are available for deployment by 2030,” according to the executive summary.

ANS, Breakthrough Institute request Part 53 workshops

June 16, 2022, 2:55PMNuclear News

ANS and the Breakthrough Institute yesterday submitted a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding the agency’s ongoing efforts to create a regulatory infrastructure for the development and commercialization of advanced reactors, a mandate of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, signed into law in January 2019.

ANS Annual Meeting: Nuclear power innovation for decarbonization

June 15, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
Panelists (from left) Adam Stein, Jon Ball, Mike Laufer, and Michl Binderbauer during the Breaking Through: Assessing the Current State and Prospects of Nuclear Innovation in the Race to Decarbonize session at the ANS Annual Meeting.

If nuclear innovators are in a race to decarbonize, it is a race with one finish line—affordable, clean, and reliable power—and many ways to get there. Over 40 fission developers and 20 fusion developers are in the running, and while attendees of the June 13 ANS Annual Meeting executive session on Breaking Through: Assessing the Current State and Prospects of Nuclear Innovation in the Race to Decarbonize heard from representatives of just three of those companies, they presented very different designs and deployment approaches, aptly reflecting the broader diversity of nuclear power innovation.

Session chair Adam Stein, director of nuclear energy innovation at the Breakthrough Institute, welcomed representatives from an advanced non–light water reactor developer (Mike Laufer, Kairos Power), a small modular light water reactor developer (Jon Ball, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy), and a fusion power developer (Michl Binderbauer, TAE Technologies). Together they explored the challenge of engineering a significant commercial scale-up of advanced nuclear technology by the end of the decade, tackling questions of cost, schedule, supply chain, regulation, and more.

Former NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane—nuclear agnostic or opponent?

November 17, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe



As noted by Newswire yesterday, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane describes herself as “agnostic” on the subject of nuclear energy. In the view of some, however, there is a more accurate way to describe Macfarlane’s nuclear stance.

In a November 15 blog post, Breakthrough Institute cofounder Ted Nordhaus suggests that Macfarlane can be considered a face of the modern antinuclear movement, the typical representative of which, he says, is not “a hippie with a No Nukes sign,” but rather “a highly credentialed progressive policy wonk, a lawyer, or academic, or journalist, who often claims not to be opposed to nuclear energy at all.”

Congress urged to include advanced nuclear in clean-energy tax credits

October 13, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Breakthrough Institute, an environmental research center, last week sent a letter to congressional leaders arguing that advanced nuclear energy needs to be included in legislation proposing an expansion of federal tax credits for clean energy.

Opposition to VTR is “dogmatism” we can’t afford, says Breakthrough Institute

September 10, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A rendition of the VTR. (Graphic: DOE)

In an op-ed published online yesterday in The Hill, Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein of the Breakthrough Institute pick apart arguments made against funding for the construction of the Versatile Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. Nordhaus and Stein contend that opposition to the VTR has been led by “entrenched opponents of nuclear energy” who “fear that innovation of the sort that many U.S. nuclear startups are presently betting on might give the technology a second life.”