Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn HOB
Opening Statement By Chairman Brian Baird
The legislation before us today amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to update and enhance our Federal nuclear energy R&D programs. Nuclear energy is the single largest source of low-emissions power in the United States. If we are to increase our energy independence and mitigate the effects of climate change, nuclear will likely have to continue be a large part of the energy mix.
However, management of nuclear waste and increasing capital costs have heavily burdened the industry and caused great concern over its reliability and long-term safety. This bill integrates the Office of Nuclear Energy’s activities and provides a more comprehensive approach to overcome these fundamental challenges.
Amongst the initiatives promoted by this legislation is a Small Modular Reactor, or “SMR” program. In a recent hearing we heard testimony from a number of witnesses from a variety of disciplines who agreed that SMRs have the potential to reduce the capital costs and default risk of nuclear energy providers while increasing the safety and reliability of nuclear generation. Under this bill, the SMR program will promote both the near-term and advanced research and development needed to make these small reactors a reality and position our nation once again as a leader in the nuclear industry.
Furthermore, this bill creates a Fuel Cycle R&D program to move the Department of Energy away from programs focused on the failed GNEP model to one that takes a comprehensive approach to management of nuclear waste including research into fuel forms, advanced reactor designs, reprocessing technologies, and advanced storage methods.
This bill is the result of a truly bipartisan effort over the past three months and I would like to thank Mr. Hall and Mr. Inglis, as well as the Committee Staff of both the Majority and Minority, for their continued good work as we move this legislation through the Committee and to the floor.
I thank you all for your attendance and participation this morning, and I look forward to a productive markup.