Advanced nuclear to be a focus of reopened Arctic Energy Office

The Department of Energy has announced the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office (AEO), to be located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The AEO was originally established in 2001 but failed to receive sufficient funding. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had pledged to reopen the office by the close of the current federal fiscal year.

The focus of the AEO, according to the DOE, will include international cooperation on Arctic issues, research on methane hydrates, and the development of advanced microgrids and nuclear power systems, such as small modular reactors.

Menezes confirmed as deputy energy secretary

Menezes

In a bipartisan 79–16 vote, the Senate on August 4 confirmed Mark W. Menezes to be the nation’s deputy secretary of energy. Prior to his confirmation, Menezes had served as undersecretary of energy to both Secretary Dan Brouillette and his predecessor, Rick Perry. An official swearing-in ceremony will take place at a later time.

Before joining the Trump administration in 2017, Menezes was an executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy. He has also worked on Capitol Hill as chief counsel for energy and environment for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as chief negotiator for the House majority in the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Senate passes defense bill with advanced nuclear provisions

In an 86 to 14 vote, the Senate on July 23 passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, incorporating by amendment S. 903, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA). The House of Representatives passed its version of the NDAA, which supports $740 billion in funding for national defense, earlier in the week in a less bipartisan manner, 295 to 125. Members of both chambers will now begin negotiations to hammer out a final bill to send to the president—a process that could take months.

Murkowski, Manchin make case for AEIA

U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), the committee’s ranking member, put their rhetorical skills to the test earlier this week as the two urged colleagues to pass the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a comprehensive piece of energy policy legislation introduced by the bipartisan pair in late February (NN, Apr. 2020, p. 14).

Lawmakers call for inclusion of nuclear in defense bill

Murkowski

Booker

A bipartisan group of 20 senators sent a letter last week to Sens. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Jack Reed (D., R.I.), the committee’s ranking member, urging the inclusion of S. 903, the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), in S. 4049, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Cory Booker, (D., N.J.). Murkowski and Booker introduced NELA on September 6, 2018 (NN, Oct. 2018, p. 39).

Bill introduced to protect critical electric infrastructure

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and James Risch (R., Idaho) have introduced legislation to bolster safeguards for U.S. critical electric infrastructure. Dubbed the Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, the bill updates provisions in the Federal Power Act and restricts federal disclosures of certain sensitive energy information.