Skip to main content

How the House is Revving Up Nuclear Momentum


In talking about the budget for the Department of Energy and particularly its Office of Nuclear Energy, we often zero in, logically enough, on the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate. These are the committees that will ultimately determine what the budget will be.
While appropriations committees determine what money is given to various programs, authorizing committees decide the general policies and programs that Appropriators can fund. In talking about the budget for the Department of Energy and particularly the Office of Nuclear Energy, the general policies and programs are decided in the House by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
And what this committee decides show how things might go over the next year and beyond. The Science Committee members have consistently expressed a lot of interest in next-generation nuclear technology – and on a bipartisan basis.
That brings us to this amendment from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.):
Developing an advanced reactor innovation testbed where national laboratories, universities, and industry can address advanced reactor design challenges to enable construction and operation of privately funded reactor prototypes to resolve technical uncertainty for United States-based designs for future domestic and international markets.
This bolsters the testbed approach and amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to incorporate it. The committee accepted this amendment; we’ll see what the full House does with it later.
I looked for more evidence that the committee sees this as a key direction – and found it, in spades. In December, the committee hosted NuScale and Transatomic to discuss nuclear energy topics and Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) expressed his view of the nuclear landscape.
Nuclear power is a proven source of emission-free electricity that has been generated safely in the United States for over half a century. However, our ability to move from R&D to market deployment has been hampered by government red tape and partisan politics. We are just now seeing the first reactors under construction in more than 30 years. This hiatus has diminished our supply chain and ability to build new reactors. In fact, the United States no longer has the capability to manufacture large reactor pressure vessels.
In another hearing (on nuclear fusion), Smith is even more direct:
Depriving the U.S. ITER program [an experimental fusion reactor hosted in France] of the funds it needs to accomplish its goals is not good policy. To maintain our competitive advantage, we must continue to support fundamental basic research that encourages the creation and design of next generation technologies.
Which is answered in part by Lipinski’s amendment.
Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) echoed Smith’s comments:
Nuclear energy was born in the United States. We have the best scientists and engineers in the world. Yet, we are not seeing the pace of commercial technology advancement that we would expect. At the same time, other countries including China are surging ahead.
One doesn’t have to agree with all of this to see how the committee is interested in the forward momentum of nuclear energy, fission and fusion. Industry is ready – it seems the government is eager to follow suit.

Comments

Ioannes said…
"One doesn’t have to agree with all of this to see how the committee is interested in the forward momentum of nuclear energy, fission and fusion. Industry is ready – it seems the government is eager to follow suit."

The problem as always is Barack Hussein Obama and his demonic minions of darkness who seek to constrict the supply of energy, restrict access to health care, emasculate the police and the military, stupidify the education system, impoverish the economy, and destroy the moral fabric of the Republic.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, that's what the president's trying to do.

Foam at the mouth much? When did this turn into a Tea Party blog?

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…