New Nuclear

Legal and Policy Advancements for Advanced Reactors

Latest from New Nuclear

On March 31st, President Biden unveiled a massive $2 trillion infrastructure and clean energy plan called the American Jobs Plan that aims, in part, to tackle what the White House calls two of the greatest challenges of our time: the climate crisis and competition with China.  Among the proposed investments, the American Jobs Plan calls for funding for the development of advanced nuclear reactors and for a clean electricity standard that can potentially support operating plants. Other provisions of the plan include clean energy tax credits, investments for upgrades to the electric grid, and plans to clean up abandoned mines…
On March 25, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing entitled “The Latest Developments in the Nuclear Energy Sector with a Focus on Ways to Maintain and Expand the Use of Nuclear Energy in the United States and Abroad.” A recording of the hearing is available here.  This full Committee hearing included testimonies from experts in nuclear, including blog contributor and Hogan Lovells Partner Amy Roma, whose testimony can be found here. Her testimony discusses the important benefits nuclear power offers for this country’s national security, economic interests, and climate change goals. Amy…
On Friday, February 26, the Biden Administration’s newly-resurrected Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (IWG) announced new values for three specific metrics that seek to monetize the environmental impacts of greenhouse gases:  the Social Cost of Carbon, Social Cost of Nitrous Oxide, and Social Cost of Methane.  Collectively these are known as the Social Costs of Greenhouse Gases, or SC-GHG. Using 2020 as a baseline and a 3% average discount rate (explained further below), the IWG calculated the Social Cost of Carbon at $51/metric ton (mt), the Social Cost of Methane at $1,500/mt, and the Social Cost…
On February 16, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS) issued a report to help guide the Biden Administration in its support of nuclear amidst the President’s ambitious climate agenda. The report, U.S. Advanced Nuclear Energy Strategy for Domestic Prosperity, Climate Protection, National Security, and Global Leadership, provides detailed recommendations to promote advanced reactor development that could garner bipartisan support if implemented. It discusses federal, state-level, and international goals for advancing nuclear. The next day, February 17, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) published a report on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development that…
President Biden ran on an energy and environmental platform calling for a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In pursuit of this clean energy plan, he also called for a modernized energy infrastructure that supports advanced nuclear commercialization. Advanced nuclear technology is capable of generating power with net-zero emissions and can help the new Administration achieve its goals concerning climate change. On January 27th, the Biden Administration has hit the ground running on climate initiatives with the following Executive Orders and other measures to address climate change and scientific integrity. Executive Order on tackling the…
The year 2020 is surely to be remembered for the pandemic that swept the globe and affected the lives of millions of people and touched practically every industry sector. Despite the hardships faced, the nuclear industry has thrived with its promise of coupling American innovation and a zero-carbon energy solution. This blog post will highlight some of the most notable 2020 activities in nuclear. Nuclear Regulatory Commission The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) boasts a number of accomplishments that sets the stage for advanced nuclear technology. Part 53 framework: In April 2020, the NRC proposed to develop the 10 CFR Part…
On Monday evening, Congress passed a $900B omnibus spending bill, which contains, most importantly, relief measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also various authorizations and appropriations for FY2021, including $1.5 billion for fission and fusion energy programs. Title II of the Energy Act of 2020 (located at “Division Z” of the spending bill) features a variety of programs to support U.S. innovation in fission and fusion, many of which are discussed below. The bill currently awaits President Trump’s signature. Although President Trump has threatened a veto of the bill, there is a fair chance the provisions discussed below…
On December 7, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a Proposed Evaluation Policy Statement (the “Proposed Policy Statement”) that seeks public comment regarding the NRC’s use of evidence for many non-adjudicatory agency actions such as licensing, oversight, rulemaking, and others. The Proposed Policy Statement is driven by a statutory mandate from the 2018 Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act, which aims to improve government evidence-collection activities and ensure that agency actions have an adequate technical basis. The Proposed Policy Statement is intended to help the NRC navigate through various agency activities using widely-accepted evaluation standards as opposed to potentially subjective,…
Today U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA) 2020.  The provisions of ANIA are intended to help ensure that the U.S. is competitive with countries like Russia and China on nuclear technology advancement and project development abroad. Among other things, the bill empowers American agencies with jurisdiction over nuclear power, addresses the revitalization of the existing nuclear fleet, and removes barriers so advanced nuclear technology can flourish. For additional details on the bill, please read our previous blog post. This bill is a…
While we often speak of nuclear power in terms of electricity production for our homes and businesses, it also has a number of other uses, including nuclear power and propulsion for space and maritime use, and there are a number of recent developments here. Space On October 20, 2020, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to expand the DOE-NASA partnership on space exploration. Space nuclear power and propulsion is among the key areas of interest listed in the MOU. The MOU establishes a joint working group to research the concept…
The NRC staff is moving forward with development of the 10 CFR Part 53 rulemaking, which will establish a new framework for licensing and regulating advanced nuclear reactors (and potentially also extending to fusion systems).  The agency is taking a novel approach to rule development on an expedited schedule, including hosting frequent public meetings and releasing strawman rule language early to encourage public comment. Novel Rulemaking Approach The  NRC staff initially proposed in SECY-20-0032 a roughly seven-year rulemaking plan, going through the standard rulemaking process with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in October 2020, issuance of a proposed rule…
On October 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded X-energy and TerraPower $80M each for their respective initiatives to build advanced nuclear reactors. The proposals were evaluated under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), a new endeavor in the Office of Nuclear Energy. According to Dr. Rita Baranwal, the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, these efforts are “important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy.” In a press release, X-energy’s CEO, Clay Sell expressed his excitement for being selected and touted DOE and Congress’ work on this program as…
On September 21, 2020, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to develop and codify a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the construction and operation of advanced nuclear reactors through a technology-neutral, plant parameter envelope (PPE) approach.  GEISs have the potential to materially reduce the licensing burden on NRC advanced reactor applicants, given that environmental reviews can take up to a third of agency resources involved in licensing the construction of an advanced reactor.  We advocated that the NRC turn to GEISs for advanced reactors in our recent article co-authored with the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, entitled Nuclear Innovation and NEPA
On September 17, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the re-opening of its Arctic Energy Office (AEO), which was originally established in 2001, but failed to take off due to insufficient funding.  Senator Murkowski (R-AK) pushed for the re-establishment of this office in the 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which supported the “promotion of research, development, and deployment of electric power technology that is cost-effective.” The DOE will coordinate with AEO on a variety of activities in the Arctic region, including on nuclear power systems. According to the DOE factsheet on the AEO, the Arctic region has…
In early September, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it awarded nearly $30 million in funding to support nuclear fusion technologies. As discussed in our in-depth whitepaper, The Regulation of Fusion – A Practical and Innovation-Friendly Approach, the U.S. is currently expanding on its nuclear technology capabilities, with commercial-scale fusion generation expected in the coming two decades.  Multiple companies are working on fusion technologies that would provide market cost-competitive power and encourage climate change thoughtfulness through carbon-free energy. The $30 million in DOE funding will help propel technology development by backing nuclear innovation with public-sector resources. The funding…