House hearing examines Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee's Energy Subcommittee held a hearing late last week on the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act.

The bill -- introduced by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-TX); House Science, Space and Technology Committee  Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX); and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), ranking member of the full committee -- aims to spur civilian research into nuclear energy technologies by private and public groups and to expand theoretical and practical knowledge of nuclear physics, chemistry and materials science.

“This legislation is of critical importance,” Randy Weber, chairman of the Energy Subcommittee, said. “We have to maintain our R&D capabilities to develop cutting-edge nuclear technology here in America or in the not-too-distant future; we’ll be importing reactors from overseas. Furthermore, we cannot afford to lose engineering and manufacturing jobs in the nuclear sector when we have the best talent in the world right now. America’s export economy is key to our global strength, and this bill will provide a long-term plan to ensure that we do not lose our talent.”

Smith agreed.

“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,” Smith said. “It produces bipartisan, long-term R&D investments that will help spur American competitiveness and keep us on the forefront of nuclear energy technology.”

Johnson concurred.

“I am very pleased to co-sponsor the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, which 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,” Johnson said. “Nuclear power currently plays a pivotal role in providing our country with reliable energy.”

Dr. Dale Klein, University of Texas vice chancellor for research, said the new bill is important.

“H.R. 4084 is an important first step toward aligning federal nuclear policies with today's realities, and if enacted, I believe would create a more collaborative relationship between government and the private sector to advance nuclear science and promote innovation,” Klein said. “It is my belief, and sincere hope, that this legislation will provide the Congress and the administration a common ground to rebuild our national nuclear science and technology infrastructure and reinvigorate the collaborative relationship between government and private sector that drives innovation.”

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U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (TX-21)

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