Reflections on a year in D.C.

January 26, 2023, 7:14AMNuclear NewsMatt Marzano

Matt Marzano
2022 ANS Congressional Fellow

Each year, the American Nuclear Society Congressional Fellow enters the halls of the Congress bringing with him or her a unique background and perspective, but also a common interest in shaping policy by drawing on his or her expertise to inform decision makers. For me, crossing that threshold had to wait, as I started my fellowship term amidst a surge in the pandemic. Awaiting the return to in-­person work and drinking from the proverbial firehose in this new role, I quickly realized that effective congressional staffers are those who are able to communicate accurately and concisely, adeptly navigate complex policy issues, and exhibit selflessness and dedication in service of their members’ priorities. As part of the clean air, climate, and energy team for the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), I was fortunate to be surrounded by staffers who demonstrated these qualities and helped smooth a steep learning curve.

Deploy, deploy, deploy: Achieving our climate goals requires nuclear this decade

November 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsJigar Shah

Jigar Shah

The Biden-­Harris administration has committed to decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 and the economy by 2050, while creating good jobs and promoting equity. There’s no question that the lowest-­cost, most reliable grid of the future will require clean, firm baseload power to support intermittent renewable energy.

Nuclear is such a reliable source of firm, flexible baseload power for the grid. Energy mix optimization models show that as penetration of renewables (such as solar and wind) grows, required energy storage capacity also grows, leading to increasing cost competitiveness of dispatchable carbon-­free power sources (including low-­impact hydro, geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage, zero-­carbon fuels like hydrogen, and nuclear). Nuclear power is an essential component of America’s transition to a clean electric grid to maintain reliability, resiliency, and affordability.

Fusion is prioritized in net-zero R&D initiative and IRA funds, but fission factors in too

November 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The U.S. ITER Project Office in Oak Ridge, Tenn. U.S. ITER has received $256 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding. (Photo: U.S. ITER)

Just days before COP27 and the U.S. midterm elections, the White House announced $1.55 billion in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding for national laboratories and the launch of a Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative based on a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals. Out of 37 research and development opportunities identified, fusion energy was selected as one of just five near-term priorities for the new cross-agency initiative. Together, the announcements signal policy and infrastructure support for fusion energy—the biggest chunk of Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) IRA funding went to ITER, via Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and for advanced nuclear technologies to power the grid and provide process heat to hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors.

Constellation planning license renewals for Clinton, Dresden

November 2, 2022, 9:33AMNuclear News
Constellation Energy's Clinton nuclear power plant. (Photo: NRC)

Constellation Energy, owner and operator of the nation’s largest reactor fleet, will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating licenses of the Clinton and Dresden reactors by 20 years, the company announced Monday, adding that it expects to file license applications with the agency in 2024.

White House would send the DOE $1.5 billion to set up reliable LEU/HALEU supply

September 8, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
HALEU in the form of 1.5–3 kg reguli ready for fuel fabrication. (Photo: INL)

Those who welcomed the $700 million earmarked for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) supply in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) in August have cause to celebrate again. The White House sent a supplemental appropriation request to Congress on September 2 that would provide more than double the IRA funds if passed—$1.5 billion—for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy to build a reliable supply of both low-enriched uranium for existing U.S. nuclear power plants and HALEU for the advanced reactors that will be built within the decade.

The IRA: Crediting nuclear energy

September 7, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), recently signed into law, has created a good deal of buzz in the nuclear community, the thought of wading through its 730 pages of legislative language can be a bit intimidating. Which is why, on August 26, the American Nuclear Society offered an hour-long, members-only webinar on the legislation and its key provisions for nuclear energy.

Moderated by John Starkey, ANS’s director of public policy, “Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in It for Nuclear” featured Benton Arnett, director of markets and policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute; Josh Siegel, energy and climate change reporter for Politico; Rory Stanley, staff member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Elina Teplinsky, partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and James Wickett, partner at Hogan Lovells. (ANS members can view the full webinar here.)

“We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”

September 7, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Everyone knows the iconic scene in the classic 1975 movie Jaws when Chief Brody, played by Roy Scheider, is chumming the waters off the coast of Cape Cod and finds himself face-to-face with a 25-foot great white shark for the first time. As you will remember, the scene cuts to Brody shuffling into the boat’s cabin, turning to Quint—the salty captain played by Robert Shaw—and saying rather dryly, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

That image, of someone confronting the true scope of their challenge, is the thing that kept creeping into my mind as I walked the expo floor of the 2022 Utility Working Conference held on Marco Island, Fla., last month.

Yes, the excitement was palpable. The Inflation Reduction Act was cruising toward enactment with $30–40 billion in new nuclear-eligible clean energy tax incentives in its berth. Dow had just announced its intention to partner with X-energy to site a high-temperature gas reactor at one of its Gulf Coast manufacturing facilities.

Congress passes climate bill with tax credits and more for nuclear

August 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

After hours of debate alternating between Democratic praise for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Republican denunciation of it, the House of Representatives late Friday passed the sweeping energy, tax, and health care package in a straight party-line vote, 220–207. Its passage represents a significant win for President Biden, who is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

The boldly named $430 billion measure includes $369 billion in energy security and climate spending, with nuclear energy included among the beneficiaries.

American Nuclear Society welcomes House passage of clean energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act

August 12, 2022, 7:25PMPress Releases

LA GRANGE PARK, Ill. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) President Steven Arndt and ANS CEO and Executive Director Craig Piercy issued the following statement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022: