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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Curtis Asserts Need for Reforms as Congress Approves Bill to Hasten Advanced Nuclear Initiatives


From ​the heart of SALT LAKE‍ CITY, a significant development in the U.S. ⁣nuclear industry was announced.⁤ On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill aimed at bolstering nuclear projects. The bill aims to simplify the approval process and offers‍ financial incentives to development⁣ companies, helping them navigate through‌ regulatory ⁣challenges.

The bill, known ⁣as the ‌Atomic Energy Advancement Act, received⁢ an impressive 356-35 vote. This act is set to⁤ accelerate the development and construction of new nuclear reactors across the country.

The ‌bill’s overwhelming approval, backed by 166 Democrats, ‌signifies a significant shift in attitudes towards nuclear power as a viable source of carbon-free power generation. The‍ bill mirrors Senate ‍legislation approved earlier this year, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah,​ a strong advocate for the bill, stated that these‌ reforms are crucial. He testified in favor of ‌the bill, which includes some financial provisions‌ he authored.

“The Advanced Nuclear Reactor Prize Act would empower the secretary of energy to grant targeted ⁤awards to cover fees assessed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for⁤ first ‍technologies that are licensed and made operational in five unique⁢ categories. The bill stipulates that ‍awards cannot exceed total amounts expended by the eligible entity, excluding other federal support,” he explained.

In a press release, Curtis further emphasized the need ⁤for innovation in the ⁤nuclear sector. He stated, “The costs and red tape ⁤associated with our permitting process are proving to be⁢ duplicative and ineffective. We need⁣ innovation ​in the nuclear space to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy in our future. Congress must do more to ensure that this can happen.”

The bill was passed ‌under suspension ‌of the body’s ‍rules.

Curtis has first-hand experience with ​the lengthy process of bringing an advanced nuclear project to​ life. His district includes municipal power producers that were part of the Carbon Free Power Project by NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

Unfortunately,⁣ this project, which was the only advanced Small Modular Reactor technology to receive a design ‍approval from ‌the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was canceled last year due to prolonged regulatory delays that increased ⁤costs for potential customers.

“The costs and red tape associated with⁤ our permitting process are proving to be duplicative and ineffective. We need innovation ‌in the nuclear space to ensure affordable, ⁤reliable and clean energy in our future.”

–Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah

The municipal power association had collaborated with NuScale Power for over a decade to establish a small nuclear power​ plant ⁤at the Idaho National Laboratory east of Idaho Falls.

The INL‍ is⁣ the U.S. Department ⁤of Energy’s leading laboratory for nuclear research. Despite ⁣significant investment from three presidential administrations, the project encountered prohibitive ‍costs and was ultimately abandoned.

Expressing his ​disappointment, Curtis said, “I’m saddened to learn of this project’s cancellation. Current and future nuclear will play a vital role in America’s energy mix. This can be a learning experience for other SMR projects, ⁢and Congress should take this opportunity to ensure the permitting process for⁢ energy projects is designed to encourage innovation.”

Expanding nuclear energy in the United States would boost the nation’s uranium industry,‌ including in Utah, which is home‌ to mining operations and the only conventional uranium mill operation in the United States, the White Mesa Mill in San Juan County. Despite a⁤ nearly tenfold increase ⁤in uranium concentrate production in 2023 due to a⁣ spike in prices, ⁢the United States domestically produces ‌only about 5% of the uranium it uses, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The provision by Curtis ‍was part of a larger bill sponsored ​by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, who is chairman of the House Energy, Climate, and Grid⁤ Security Subcommittee.

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  1. Disagree – The rush to advance nuclear initiatives could have unforeseen consequences for both the environment and public safety.

  2. Disagree – Rushing advanced nuclear initiatives without proper oversight could lead to disastrous consequences.


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