EPW Business Meeting Statement: Consideration of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a business meeting to consider S.512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act. Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Senator Barrasso and I have enjoyed a good and productive working relationship over the years. While we might not agree on everything, my hope and expectation is that we will do our best to come together where we can to make progress on numerous fronts. Today is a perfect example of coming together and working on an issue that is important for both of us and for the country – innovation in nuclear energy. For those of us on the Democrat side of the aisle in the Senate, there are few environmental challenges more important than what we believe to be the clear and damaging effects of climate change. Nuclear power is a prime example of how we can combat the negative impact of climate change on our environment and public health, while also providing economic opportunities for Americans.

“Done responsibly, nuclear power helps our nation – and many others – curb our reliance on dirtier fuels that help create the air pollution that damages our lungs and our climate. At the same time, we know that when the United States leads in nuclear energy, we create opportunities for good paying manufacturing, construction and operating jobs right here at home. Today, nuclear energy provides about twenty percent of our nation’s energy. However, today’s reactors will not be around forever. If we are smart, we will replace our aging nuclear reactors with new technology developed in this country that is safer, produces less spent fuel and is cheaper to build and operate.  If we seize this opportunity, the U.S. can be a leader in nuclear energy again, reaping the economic benefits that flow from that leadership.

“I want to commend our Chairman and the cosponsors of this bill – especially Senators Whitehouse, Inhofe, Booker and Crapo – for their work to reach a bipartisan agreement.  I think it is a good bill, one that has come a long way since its introduction last year. As my colleagues have heard me say again and again, if it isn’t perfect, make it better, which is why I’ve worked with the authors of this legislation in order to make a few improvements to the underlying bill. These changes are in the manager’s amendment and help provide more support for advanced nuclear reactors. Specifically, the changes are meant to ensure that all advanced nuclear technologies are treated the same when it comes to federal funding. They incentivize private investments in research and development in advanced nuclear technology – which is critical for advanced nuclear. And finally, these changes will help us assess advanced nuclear technology that has the potential to make nuclear fuel rods in current and future reactors safer than existing technology. 

“Again, I would like to thank the Chairman and the bill’s cosponsors – along with members of their staffs – for working with my staff and me in our efforts to make it better. With these changes, I’ve decided to cosponsor the legislation and will support the bill.  I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting the manager’s amendment and the legislation. This legislation ensures that the United States is on the cutting edge of nuclear technology – technology that is safer and more cost competitive than our current fleet. I truly believe this legislation is a critical piece in addressing our climate and clean air goals.  

“Thank you again Mr. Chairman, it is my hope we can work on similar bipartisan issues in the future.”