Washington, D.C. The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today approved the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (H.R. 4084), a bipartisan bill to support federal research and development (R&D) and stimulate private investment in advanced nuclear reactor technologies in the United States. The bill was introduced by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas) along with Full Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The bill was approved today by voice vote.

Subcommittee Chairman Weber: “America must maintain our R&D capabilities, and continue to develop cutting edge nuclear technology here at home. Without the prioritization outlined in this bill, we’ll lose the ability to develop innovative nuclear technology and be left importing reactor designs from overseas.  Right now, we have the best nuclear engineers and manufacturing capacity in the world. America’s export economy is a key to our global strength and this bill will provide a long term plan to ensure that we that we do not lose our talent.”

This bipartisan legislation directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize federal R&D infrastructure that will enable the private sector to invest in advanced reactor technologies and provide a clear path forward to attract private investment for prototype development at DOE labs. 

Chairman Smith: “Nuclear power has been a proven source of safe and emission-free electricity for over half a century since it was first developed in the United States. Nuclear energy can be a clean, cheap answer to an energy independent, pro-growth, secure future if we let the science and market forces prevail. The U.S. has not lived up to its potential when it comes to nuclear energy. This legislation enables our talented engineers in the private sector, academia, and at the national labs to develop the next generation of nuclear technology here in the United States.”

H.R. 4084 enables the private sector to partner with national labs for the purpose of developing novel reactor concepts, leverages DOE’s supercomputing infrastructure to accelerate nuclear energy R&D, and provides statutory direction for a DOE reactor-based fast neutron source that will operate as an open-access user facility.  In addition, this bill requires DOE to put forth a transparent, strategic, ten year plan for prioritizing nuclear R&D programs.

Ranking Member Johnson: “Nuclear power plays a vital role in providing our country with clean, reliable energy. I am very concerned about the growing threat of climate change.  Nuclear power can and should play a key role in our efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of our electricity sector. But there currently are technical, economic, and policy challenges that prevent nuclear energy from playing a larger role in enabling our clean energy future. The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act takes several positive steps to address these challenges. Implementing the provisions in this bill will help accelerate the development of advanced nuclear energy technologies that are safer, less expensive, more efficient, and produce less waste than the current generation of nuclear reactors. It is my hope that the provisions in this bill can aid in ensuring a bright future for the U.S. nuclear energy industry.”

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act has received letters of support from several Universities and organizations, including: Bipartisan Policy Center, University of Texas System, Texas A&M, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, MIT, General Atomics, the American Nuclear Society, U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council, the John Heinz Professor of Management at the Harvard Business School, Joe Lassiter, and Dr. Burton Richter, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976.

For more information about today’s markup, including amendments and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.

H.R. 4084 Background & Analysis