Panel approves nuclear energy research bill

Panel approves nuclear energy research bill
© Getty Images

A House committee approved a bipartisan bill Tuesday promoting research and development funding for nuclear energy in the United States.

The bill directs the Department of Energy to prioritize nuclear energy research that utilizes private sector funding. 


It would allow private firms to partner with federally-run national labs to research nuclear reactor technologies and allow Energy Department researchers to use the national labs' supercomputers in their nuclear energy studies. 

The legislation also calls for the Energy Department to complete a research reactor within the next ten years.

The Science, Space and Technology Committee approved the bill on a unanimous voice vote on Tuesday. The legislation is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas), ranking member Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonReturning to the moon to gain soft political power Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — Prosecutors used FISA warrant to get info on Huawei | Study finds discrimination in Facebook ads | Bezos retains voting control over ex-wife's Amazon stocks MORE (D-Texas) and Rep. Randy WeberRandall (Randy) Keith WeberHouse passes bill expressing support for NATO Texas governor, top lawmakers tell Trump not to use hurricane relief funds to build border wall To protect the environment, Trump should investigate Russian collusion MORE (R-Texas).

Both sides lauded the bill — and the chance to expand nuclear power in the United States.

“Strategic investments in advanced nuclear reactor technology should play a much more meaningful role in reducing global emissions,” Smith said at Tuesday’s hearing.

“However, our ability to move from R and D to market deployment has been hampered by government red tape. The U.S. has not lived up to its potential when it comes to nuclear energy."

Johnson, while co-sponsoring the bill, said she would like to see it recommend funding levels for the DOE’s nuclear energy research program. 

“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,” she said.

“While I do recognize the difficulty of authoring funding levels these days, I think it is an important function of our committee. As we move this bill forward, I hope it is something we can revisit.”