White House backs HALEU enrichment with a request for $2.2 billion

October 26, 2023, 3:15PMNuclear News
Image: DOE

Just a few hours after a new Speaker of the House of Representatives was elected on October 25, the White House sent a list of funding priorities for “critical domestic needs” to Congress for consideration as legislators restart the stalled annual appropriations process. Those priorities include $2.2 billion for low-enriched uranium (LEU) and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) enrichment capabilities. And to ensure that investment in domestic HALEU enrichment pays off, the White House is also calling for a long-term ban on enriched uranium from Russia.

Hill staffers get a nonproliferation education

September 25, 2023, 7:01AMANS News
Congressional staffers gathered for a talk on nuclear weapons and nonproliferation as part of the ANS Nuclear Energy 101 program.

Class was back in session this spring when, after a hiatus, the American Nuclear Society hosted its third session of Nuclear Energy 101 in Washington, D.C., for congressional staffers. This five-course educational series is a wonderful—and popular—tool for ANS to network with congressional staff and explain the basics of nuclear science and technology.

The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot: The uncertain path forward

September 1, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

In the last few weeks of 2021, when it was clear that the Russian invasion of Ukraine had put this country’s uranium fuel supply in jeopardy, nuclear energy advocates lobbied hard to attach provisions to various pieces of “must-pass” legislation—such as the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA), the Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the CHIPS and Science Act—to have the government get the ball rolling on new domestic uranium fuel production capacity. Four times they thought they had succeeded, that Congress was going to allocate enough money to start the United States on the road to a secure supply of reactor fuel, including the higher-enriched fuel needed for advanced reactors.

The Civil Nuclear Credit Program: An overview

June 2, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear NewsMichael McQueen

Officially established on November 15, 2021, with the signing of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, or BIL—the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit Program was designed to give owners/operators of commercial U.S. reactors the opportunity to apply for certification and competitively bid on credits to help support the continued operation of economically troubled units. Finally, the federal government, and not just certain farsighted state governments, would recognize nuclear energy for its important grid reliability and decarbonization attributes.

The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot: From global supplier to vulnerable customer

May 19, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

This article is the second in a series about the domestic nuclear fuel crisis. The first in the series, “‘On the verge of a crisis’: The U.S. nuclear fuel Gordian knot,” was published on Nuclear Newswire on April 14, 2023.

Once upon a time, enrichment was a government monopoly—at least outside the Soviet bloc. But the United States, eager to get out of the field, was convinced that the private sector could do it better. Now, the West is dependent on the Soviets’ successors and is facing an uncertain supply, a complication of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Slowly, a consensus is growing that dependence on imports is a bad idea. Some experts also say that upsets like the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the collapse of natural gas prices due to fracking, show that the market is too prone to shocks for private companies to navigate without support. One of the architects of the U.S. government’s exit from the enrichment game is now voicing second thoughts. And belatedly—shortly after the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian invasion—five Western countries, including the United States, announced that they have to get more deeply involved in the fuel supply chain, but didn’t say precisely how.

Donalds, Barnard call for streamlining NRC’s regulatory process

March 27, 2023, 2:59PMNuclear News

Barnard

Donalds

“To be frank, any emissions-related climate goals are moonshots without nuclear energy, and next-generation nuclear technology is something that the United States can and SHOULD lead on.” So writes U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) and Christopher Barnard, vice president of external affairs for the American Conservation Coalition, in an essay published by RealClear Energy.

Good news: Donalds, one of the strongest advocates for nuclear energy in the U.S. House, and Barnard, publisher and coauthor of Green Market Revolution, begin their essay by noting some recent positive developments for nuclear power. They characterize the initial criticality of Vogtle-3, the first new nuclear reactor built in the United States in about 30 years, as “a monumental achievement for the American nuclear industry.” They praise the Biden administration’s allocation of funds to keep established nuclear plants operational.

Rep. Donalds calls for end to regulations hampering microreactor development

December 12, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Donalds

“I wholeheartedly believe that utilizing nuclear energy—specifically advanced nuclear microreactors—could have made a positive difference for Florida’s 19th District in many ways,” wrote Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) in an op-ed about Hurricane Ian that appeared in the Floridian on December 5. Donalds noted that Ian, which struck southwest Florida (the location of his congressional district) on September 28, 2022, was an “unforgettable storm” that caused “heart-wrenching devastation” to the area but that “the deployment of microreactors throughout Southwest Florida could have: (1) reduced disaster-related mortality; (2) reduced direct disaster-related economic loss; and (3) reduced the overall disruption of basic services stemming from Hurricane Ian’s devastation.”

Microreactor technology and benefits: Donalds offered his readers a brief lesson on nuclear microreactors, explaining that they are “small, versatile, and extremely reliable pieces of innovative technology” that put to rest common public concerns about nuclear energy related to “large smokestacks, nuclear waste, and nuclear meltdowns.”

Trust is the coin of the realm

August 16, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

It is often said that in Washington, “trust is the coin of the realm.” Of course, you can be forgiven for thinking these days that trust in politics is an outmoded concept—that the only coin of the realm today is, well, “coin.” But you would be wrong.

Behind the facade of political polarization and tribalism there still exists a genuine desire to make good policy. Of course, each side of the ideological spectrum will always have their preferred set of solutions, and those solutions will usually be “spiced” by the parties’ respective “bases.” But I never cease to be surprised by how much undetected common ground exists on practical matters.

During the last six months, in partnership with the bipartisan U.S. House Advanced Reactor Caucus, I have had the honor of moderating monthly Jeffersonian dinners on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and leaders from across the nuclear profession. If you are not familiar with the format, a Jeffersonian dinner requires that there be one single conversation at the table around a posed central question, such as, “Is nuclear energy overregulated?” or “Should the U.S. recycle its nuclear fuel?”

House subcommittee asks for improvements to nuclear cleanup strategy

July 19, 2022, 7:07AMRadwaste Solutions
Rep. Jamaal Bowman during a hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing last week to evaluate the Department of Energy’s approach to research and development on new strategies and technologies to support the nuclear waste cleanup mission of its Office of Environmental Management (EM).

The crucial role that universities play in our nuclear future

April 19, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear NewsBill Foster

Foster

New and existing nuclear reactors are among our most powerful tools if we hope to make a meaningful contribution to climate change before 2050. We don’t have a lot of time to reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic warming. It is our responsibility to develop a comprehensive response to address our dependence on fossil fuels, promote sustainable energy use, and invest in new energy technologies.

Science and engineering continue to make great strides in energy-­related technologies such as advanced nuclear reactors, long-­term energy storage, fusion energy, and the safe and secure handling of spent nuclear fuel. Using every viable tool to combat climate change will help ensure a safer world for us and for generations to come.

House committee passes bipartisan university research infrastructure bill

January 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan bill to ensure that U.S. universities are equipped to play a key role in supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technology and applications has been passed by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) would boost investment in new and existing university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology and the workforce required for commercial advanced reactor deployment.

ANS URGES CONGRESS TO DEVELOP U.S. FUEL SUPPLY FOR ADVANCED NUCLEAR

September 15, 2021, 3:42PMUpdated September 15, 2021, 3:43PMPress Releases

The United States Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of fuel for advanced reactors and to avoid future dependence on Russia for advanced nuclear fuel, the American Nuclear Society wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

ANS asks members to tell Congress to support nuclear R&D

June 15, 2021, 3:36PMANS News

As more than 1,500 meeting attendees were partaking in technical sessions during the 2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting, the American Nuclear Society launched a new policy engagement initiative aimed at drawing support for a segment of the Biden administration’s FY 2022 budget request. The initiative, kicked off today by an email to ANS members, urged the members to send letters to their congressional representatives asking for support of advanced nuclear research and development funding.

NRC reports nine abnormal occurrences in FY 2020

June 8, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent to Congress its annual report on abnormal occurrences involving the medical and industrial uses of radioactive material. An abnormal occurrence is defined by law as an unscheduled incident or event that the NRC determines to be significant from the standpoint of public health or safety. The NRC sets specific criteria, most recently updated in October 2017, for determining which events qualify.

ANS signs onto letter supporting reintroduction of ANIA

June 4, 2021, 11:58AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society was among 24 nuclear-related companies and organizations that signed a letter urging Senate sponsors of the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA) to reintroduce and advance the legislation. The signees represent a broad range of nuclear supporters from the industrial, nonprofit, and advocacy sectors. The letter was sent to Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.). Barrasso was the original sponsor of the bill, while Whitehouse, Crapo, and Booker were original cosponsors.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw writes op-ed for The Hill in support of nuclear

March 9, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Crenshaw

In an opinion piece published last Friday in The Hill, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas) says that the Biden administration should focus on nuclear power in order to provide clean and reliable power to the grid. Speaking from the recent experience of dealing with the polar vortex that greatly affected the Texas electric grid, Crenshaw said, “People all over the world are . . . demanding cleaner energy that reduces carbon emissions. The Biden administration believes we can do this by prioritizing solar and wind energy. They’re wrong.”

Crenshaw continued, “If the Texas grid was solely or even mostly reliant on renewables last month, our situation would be far more dire. So how do we achieve both a massive reduction in emissions while also maintaining reliable baseload energy? Nuclear.”

Texas congressman weighs in on Yucca Mountain

December 14, 2020, 12:12PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Burgess

The U.S. Congress has failed to uphold its promise to fully fund Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, as a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel, Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R., Texas) writes in an op-ed article published on December 8 in the Dallas Morning News.

More than three decades after passing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Congress has yet to fully fund the Yucca Mountain Project. Burgess points out that while some countries have found success with reprocessing spent fuels, the fission process will always produce some amount of material that must be safely disposed, making it necessary to find a permanent solution.