Opening Statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper: “One Year of Progress: An Update on Implementation of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing, “One Year of Progress: An Update on Implementation of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery.

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing today to discuss the implementation of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, also known as NEIMA. And thank you to our witnesses for their service at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and for joining us.  This law was the product of bipartisan work by the Chairman, Senator Inhofe, and Senators Whitehouse, Booker and Crapo. I was pleased to cosponsor.


“From the very start of our union, our country has faced daunting challenges that at first seemed impossible to overcome. But with support from federal, state and local governments, Americans have always found ways to innovate and find solutions to overcome these challenges.


“Today, we face the greatest environmental crisis we will likely ever face in our lifetimes – and that is climate change. If we are going to meet the challenge of climate change, we must do much more to spur zero-emitting technology here at home and around the world.


“Nuclear power is a prime example of how we can combat climate change and provide economic opportunities for Americans. Done responsibly, nuclear power helps our nation reduce both our reliance on dirtier fuels and the air pollution that damages our lungs and our climate.


“At the same time, we know that when the United States leads on nuclear energy, it opens up good paying manufacturing, construction and operating jobs opportunities for Americans nationwide. Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of our nation’s energy. However, our existing reactors cannot run forever.


“If we are smart about it, we will replace our aging nuclear reactors with new, advanced technology developed here at home—domestic technology that is safer, produces less spent fuel and is cheaper to build and operate.


“The Chairman, myself and the many other cosponsors of this bill hoped that this bill would be the catalyst needed for advanced nuclear technology to become a reality for this country. I look forward to our conversation with NRC today to discuss its implementation, and whether or not our hopes have been realized.


“Finally, I will end with this. I believe NEIMA was an important step to address climate change, but it is only a drop in the bucket when it comes to climate solutions.


“If we are going to stem the tide of climate change so much more needs to be done, and we need to act fast. The federal government needs to be galvanized to address the climate crisis and move our country to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions.


“What that takes is leadership from the President, and we just aren’t seeing that today. Instead, we’ve seen the Trump Administration promote policies that undermine the climate science and increase our dependency on dirty energy—policies that are, quite frankly, sending the wrong message to those who are interested in investing in advanced nuclear and other zero emitting technologies. These actions and that wrong message threaten U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy economy and the health of every American.


“Mr. Chairman, thank you again for holding this hearing. It is my hope we can work on similar bipartisan issues in the future.”