Policy


The enduring legacy of ACRS: Reviewing safety-licensing to protect the public

February 1, 2023, 4:04PMNuclear NewsHossein Nourbakhsh

The 1957 amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the Advisory Committee On Reactor Safeguards as a statutory committee with an independent advisory role and the responsibility to “review safety studies and facility license applications” and advise the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission “with regard to the hazards of proposed or existing reactor facilities and the adequacy of reactor safety standards.” With the enactment of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the ACRS was assigned to the newly established Nuclear Regulatory Commission with its statutory requirements intact.

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.

Countries change nuclear policies in response to Ukraine war

January 6, 2023, 7:09AMNuclear News

As a direct result of the war in Ukraine, several countries have changed their policies on nuclear energy—even those with long-standing nuclear phase-out plans. This February will mark one year since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, leading to ongoing war and turning pandemic-era energy shortages into a global energy crisis. Spiking gas prices and concerns about electricity supply during the cold winter months have thrown many governments into a frenzy as they try to ease the impact on their citizens.

Countries in the process of phasing out their nuclear power had been prepared to increase their reliance on natural gas. But as Russia supplies 40 percent of the European Union’s natural gas, nations with no reliable alternative now face sky-high energy prices—even energy poverty. Across Europe and beyond, nuclear power plants slated for permanent closure have been given second chances to shore up energy supply. Nuclear power has also claimed a bigger spotlight in countries’ strategies for energy independence.

Trustees of Nuclear

January 4, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

Long ago, there was a time when ANS was great. . . . Nope, not going to say it like that. Start over. There was a time when ANS was an elite organization.

By either annual revenue or employee headcount, we were the largest nuclear-related nongovernmental organization in the United States. The American Nuclear Society enjoyed the support of industry, but it also remained apart from it, with a democratically elected leadership committed to the larger societal good of nuclear technology—not just more plants or higher profits. Back then, ANS had sophisticated efforts to promote nuclear technology to the public.

Did you know ANS produced several public service announcements that aired on radio and TV in the 1970s? We have some on vinyl, and they sound cool. Unfortunately, no one thought to secure the rights or save the original film, so we can’t even post them on our website without paying a royalty to—I kid you not—Oddball Films.

Omnibus spending bill passes Senate

December 22, 2022, 11:47PMNuclear News

In a 68–29 vote on Thursday, the Senate approved the fiscal year 2023 omnibus bill—a $1.7 trillion spending package intended to fund the federal government through next September. The bill is now with the House, where it is expected to pass, averting the unhappy prospect of a partial government shutdown over the holidays.

Labeled H.R. 2617, the 4,155-page measure includes $858 billion for defense, a 10 percent jump from the FY2022 enacted level, and $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, an increase of 5.5 percent.

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.”

Bill to return U.S. to a nuclear energy leadership position advances

December 16, 2022, 7:32AMNuclear News

The International Nuclear Energy Act (S. 4064), a bill aimed at developing a strategy to counter the growing influence of Russia and China on the global nuclear export market, was reported favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 7.

The measure was introduced in April by Sens. Jim Risch (R., Idaho), the committee’s ranking member, and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Conversation advancing in U.S. on fusion energy regulation

December 15, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeTim Peckinpaugh, Michael L. O’Neill, and Molly K. Barker

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently convened a briefing with its staff and a range of stakeholders to discuss different approaches to regulating commercial fusion energy activities in the United States. This briefing represented the culmination of more than two years of public engagement by NRC staff on fusion regulation, inviting input from public, private, and international parties.

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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.”

Report touts nuclear energy’s investment attractiveness based on ESG standards

November 17, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy “has exceptional characteristics that make it uniquely qualified to address all three facets of the energy trilemma: affordability, sustainability, and reliability,” according to a new report, Solving the Energy Trilemma: The Case for Nuclear as a Sustainable Investment. Developed by the Center for ESG and Sustainability (CESG), which has a partnership with Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the report concludes, “Even absent ESG [environmental, social, and governance] considerations, nuclear is an investible asset. However, its strong ESG performance makes the case for investment even stronger.”

Nuclear Science and Engineering publishes special issue on the VTR project

October 20, 2022, 6:59AMANS News

The Department of Energy’s crucial Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project is the focus of a newly released special issue of Nuclear Science and Engineering. This special issue of the American Nuclear Society’s flagship journal presents a current snapshot of the nuclear innovation project, which is being developed in partnership among the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), six national labs, and a host of industry and university partners.

Virginia governor touts nuclear in launch of new state energy plan

October 6, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Youngkin

Speaking earlier this week at the launch ceremony for Virginia’s 2022 Energy Plan, Gov. Glenn Youngkin called for an all-of-the-above approach, stressing the need for “an achievable and dynamic energy plan that provides for abundant, reliable, affordable, and clean energy.” He also left no doubt as to where nuclear power fits into that plan.

“We have to be all in [for] nuclear energy in Virginia,” Youngkin declared, addressing an audience of lawmakers, workers donning hard hats, and business executives at a power transformer manufacturing facility in Lynchburg. “When it comes to reliability, affordability, when it comes to clean power, when it comes to the abundant nature of growing power demand, absolutely nothing beats nuclear energy. It is the baseload of all baseloads. And Virginia is uniquely positioned to lead.”

GOP lawmakers push to lower regulatory hurdles for small nuclear firms

October 5, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Donalds

Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) has introduced legislation in the House to help U.S. small businesses engaged or seeking to engage in the research, development, and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.

Dubbed the Nuclear Assistance for America’s Small Businesses Act, the bill debuted September 29 with 10 of Donalds’s fellow House Republicans as cosponsors: Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Florida’s Maria Elvira Salazar, Georgia’s Buddy Carter, North Carolina’s Dan Bishop and Ted Budd, Ohio’s Bob Latta, South Carolina’s Nancy Mace, Tennessee’s Chuck Fleischmann and John Rose, and Texas’s Chip Roy.

Bill basics: The measure would amend the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) to allow small businesses to delay 50 percent of their preapplication fees to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as 35 percent of their postapplication fees over a period of 10 years.

ANS commits to open research publishing

September 13, 2022, 12:02PMANS News

After more than a year of discussion and planning, American Nuclear Society Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy recently signed an agreement with open research (OR) publisher F1000 (a subsidiary of Taylor & Francis) to create a new publishing platform that adopts F1000’s innovative open research methodology and technology. A generous, sustaining donation from ANS member Sushil C. Jain, P.E., will allow ANS to bring this plan from idea to reality. All content published on the new ANS F1000 platform will be free and open to the public. Both organizations are excited to begin this critical step forward, bringing ANS scholarly publications into the future.

ANS names 2023 Congressional Fellows

September 8, 2022, 9:31AMANS News

For the first time in the 23-year history of the Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellowship, the American Nuclear Society has selected two members to spend a year as “Beltway insiders.” The 2023 Congressional Fellows are Sarah Stevenson, a Ph.D. candidate in nuclear engineering at the University of California–Berkeley, and Joseph Orellana, an engineer at GE-Hitachi.

ANS welcomes WISE interns back to Washington, D.C.

September 1, 2022, 9:30AMANS News
Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez (far left) and Matt Hageman (far right) are pictured with five other WISE interns and FMR Gil Brown (center front).

For the first time since 2019, student interns were welcomed to Washington, D.C., for the summer to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. Among them were two students sponsored by ANS—Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez and Matt Hageman.

Report sizes up nuclear new-build financing from five top exporters

August 31, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

As energy security and environmental concerns prompt some countries to increase their reliance on nuclear energy or become first-time adopters of the technology, the U.S. government must decide whether it will offer financing for reactor exports—a move that poses financial risks but could create jobs, address global climate and energy security challenges, and limit Chinese and Russian influence. A new report released on August 25 by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Comparing Government Financing of Reactor Exports: Considerations for U.S. Policy Makers, digs into the history of nuclear reactor financing and delivers recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

Matt Bowen, research scholar at the center and the report’s lead author, told Nuclear News, “Given how important financing is to countries considering new reactor construction, as well as the competition that U.S. vendors face from foreign state-owned entities, Congress and the White House should both focus attention on the issue, including policy options to increase U.S. competitiveness.”

Japanese PM wants more nuclear restarts, next-generation development

August 25, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Kishida

Having already declared last month his government’s intention to return to service as many as nine idled power reactors in order to ensure stable supplies of energy this winter, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida yesterday called for additional restarts and endorsed the development and construction of next-generation nuclear plants, according to reports from various news outlets, including Nikkei Asia, the Washington Examiner, and the Los Angeles Times.

Kishida made the comments at the second meeting of Japan’s GX (Green Transformation) Implementation Council, a new group tasked with helping the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Philippine lawmakers create nuclear energy panel

August 19, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
The session hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, the seat of the Philippines’ House of Representatives.

The Philippines’ House of Representatives has established a special 25-member committee to focus on nuclear energy.

Within the committee’s purview, according to an August 9 release from the House’s Press and Public Affairs Bureau, are “all matters directly and principally relating to the policies and programs to the production, utilization, and conservation of nuclear energy, including the development of nuclear power infrastructure, as well as interaction of other energy sources with nuclear energy as a reliable, cost competitive, and environment-friendly energy source to ensure energy security consistent with the national interest and the state’s policy of freedom from nuclear weapons.”