Proposed Policy Reforms
Reform the NRC funding model
America’s nuclear companies pay for 90 cents of every dollar spent by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). While cost-sharing keeps federal spending to a minimum, it also encourages the NRC to grow at the industry’s expense. Instead, licensees and applicants should pay the NRC for activities specifically related to their operations, with Congress funding more general programs – such as the development of new regulations for the next generation of nuclear technologies. As was the case for the first generation of nuclear plants, some level of cost sharing for application review should also be provided.
Reform the NRC licensing process
Our country’s nuclear permitting process is tailored to a single type of nuclear technology from the Eisenhower-era. The process, handled by the NRC, must be reformed because new nuclear technologies are coming down the development pipeline from top universities, national laboratories, and companies. Based on the old rules, new designs may be forced to add redundant features and face bureaucratic delays. The current system of licensing is so expensive and outdated that American advanced nuclear companies are looking to deploy their designs abroad. The nation needs to implement technology-neutral licensing processes so our best engineers develop their ideas here at home.
Share public resources
The private sector would benefit from greater access to the nuclear innovation facilities at our national laboratories and public research facilities. National laboratories already own expensive (and often underused) equipment that could significantly reduce private-sector development costs. Simply enabling the private sector to access national lab resources would lower costs and stimulate faster deployment times.