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Booker Lauds Committee Passage of Legislation to Modernize Regulatory Framework for Advanced Nuclear Energy

Booker-cosponsored bills to advance Delaware River conservation efforts, expand EPA program to clean up brownfields, and reauthorize EPA program to reduce diesel emissions also pass EPW committee

May 18, 2016
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Washington, D.C. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) issued the following statement today after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to approve the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA), which would create a new licensing framework for advanced reactors at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  Booker, a chief sponsor of the bill, applauded the committee’s vote for NEIMA in addition to a number of Booker-cosponsored bills that benefit New Jersey, including the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015 (BUILD Act), the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 , and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2016.

 

“Developing clean energy technologies is vital to the health of our environment and to our nation’s economic competitiveness, from America’s rural communities to our largest cities,” said Booker. “The Environment and Public Works Committee’s passage of this bill is another step forward in our bipartisan effort to provide a modernized regulatory framework to encourage the development of safe, carbon-free advanced nuclear energy.

 

“Additional provisions in this bill will help restore and protect the Delaware River watershed and expand the eligibility and scope of an EPA program to clean up and redevelop brownfields. It’s good news for New Jersey that these efforts are moving forward.

 

The additional Booker-cosponsored provisions passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee are:

 

Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015 (S.1479)

The BUILD Act was introduced in the 114th Congress by Booker, Inhofe, Markey, EPW Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). S. 1479, would also make several enhancements to the program, including (1) prioritizing technical assistance grants for Brownfields projects in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas, (2) establishing a program to provide grants to locate clean energy projects at Brownfields sites, and (3) expanding funding eligibility for governmental entities that did not cause or contribute to the contamination.  A similar version of the BUILD Act was introduced by the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), along with Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Inhofe, and Crapo in the 113th Congress and was reported by the EPW committee by voice vote on April 3, 2014. 

 

Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 (S.921)

The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 (S. 921) introduced by Sens. Booker, Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer(D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.), and Robert Casey (D-Penn.), directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish a non-regulatory Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.  The Delaware River Basin is located within the States of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The restoration program is to draw on existing and new management plans for the Basin and work in consultation with applicable management entities; adopt a basin-wide strategy to support implementation of a shared set of restoration and protection activities and support cost-effective and measurable conservation efforts; establish a grant program; and provide technical assistance.  The purpose of the program is to coordinate restoration and protection activities among Federal, State, local, and regional entities and conservation partners throughout the Basin.  For each of fiscal years 2016 through 2021 $5 million is authorized for grants and technical assistance to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education, with a 50 percent non-federal cost share, to carry out the purposes of the Program.

 

Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2016 (S.2816)

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2016 reauthorizes the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program through 2021. DERA is a voluntary program that provides federal and state grants to incentivize equipment and vehicle owners to install retrofit technologies on existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines, or replace engines and equipment. DERA has a history of strong bipartisan support including in 2005, passage by 92 to 1 and in 2010, passage by unanimous consent. DERA is one of the most cost-effective federal clean air programs, which according to EPA’s most recent estimate, has upgraded nearly 73,000 vehicles or pieces of equipment and saved over 450 million gallons of fuel.

 

Additional Background on the Nuclear Energy Modernization Act:

 

Building a nuclear reactor in the United States requires a construction and operating license from the NRC to ensure the new facility meets federal safety and security standards.  The NRC’s current licensing framework for nuclear reactors is geared toward the standard “light water” reactor technology, which produces large quantities of energy but can also present safety, waste disposal, and other challenges.  Newer technologies– such as molten salt and traveling wave reactors – have the potential to produce substantial quantities of energy more efficiently and with fewer of the drawbacks associated with light water reactors.

 

 

NEIMA has the support of nuclear leaders like the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, ClearPath Action, NuScale Power, Hybrid Power Technologies, Third Way, Gen4 Energy, Terrestrial Energy USA, American Nuclear Society, Tri Alpha Energy, the Transatomic Power Corporation, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance, Clean Air Task Force, and Entergy.