April 08, 2022

Risch, Manchin Introduce International Nuclear Energy Act

Bipartisan legislation will promote the safe, secure, and peaceful use of civil nuclear energy by reducing China and Russia’s influence on other nations’ civil nuclear energy programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the International Nuclear Energy Act . This bipartisan legislation establishes an Executive Office for Nuclear Energy Policy to promote engagement with ally and partner nations to develop a civil nuclear export strategy and offset China and Russia’s growing influence on international nuclear energy development.

“Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has only highlighted the importance of energy security. This bill takes significant steps to re-establish American leadership in nuclear energy, both at home and abroad, which is critical to ensuring the security of energy supplies for ourselves and our allies, global standards for nonproliferation and other national security interests, and economic growth,” said Risch. “This bill also seeks to ensure we can provide nuclear energy solutions to countries that might otherwise pursue Russian or Chinese nuclear plants. We must act quickly to advance a new era of clean American energy production.”

“We must not turn a blind eye as China and Russia aggressively use their state-owned and operated civil nuclear programs as coercive tools to the detriment of other nations' energy security and our global nonproliferation efforts. The United States must be proactive in confronting these geopolitical threats, not only for our national security but also for the entire free world,” said Chairman Manchin. “Our bipartisan bill establishes an Office for Nuclear Energy Policy to engage with our allies and industry partners to offset Chinese and Russian influence and reduce our reliance on nuclear fuels from these and other adversarial nations. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this critical legislation to help strengthen our energy security and further deny any nation the ability to weaponize energy against us and our allies,” said Manchin.

“Russia and China currently dominate the international nuclear energy market, and the U.S. presence has all but disappeared. Russia and China both offer competitive financing of up to 90% of the cost of a nuclear power plant, and currently we're reliant on Russia for nuclear fuel. Senators Risch and Manchin's International Nuclear Energy Act will maximize America's capabilities to support domestic companies developing nuclear energy projects internationally. Deploying more clean, reliable nuclear energy is essential to reducing global carbon dioxide emissions, and we should do everything we can to have it made in America,” said Rich Powell, CEO, ClearPath Action.

“The International Nuclear Energy Act of 2022 lays out a bold and ambitious vision to reassert U.S. global leadership in civil nuclear technologies. We’ve long advocated for the U.S. to lead the world in using every clean energy source to address climate change and enhance our energy sovereignty. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes very stark the reality that as long as democratic nations rely on authoritarian states for resources, our security is at risk. The bill takes action on these concerns by emphasizing the importance of a cohesive and coordinated ‘whole-of-government’ approach to international civil nuclear cooperation and exports. This is absolutely necessary to counter the strategies of states like Russia and China who are trying to use civilian nuclear exports as a diplomatic weapon. By prioritizing early engagement with prospective partners, encouraging collaboration with allies on financing and R&D, and investing in our nuclear supply chains, particularly for nuclear fuels, the U.S. can protect our interests, global democracy, and reduce carbon pollution,” said Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for Climate and Energy, Third Way.

“The atrocities taking place in Ukraine have underscored the vital importance of energy security at home and around the globe. Governments around the world are recognizing the vital role nuclear carbon-free energy will play in achieving not only climate goals but allowing for greater energy and national security.  We have already seen countries like the United Kingdom and Belgium take steps to extend or grow their commercial nuclear generation. The Manchin-Risch bill includes important provisions that will facilitate the deployment of U.S. nuclear energy technologies to partner nations, generating American jobs and extending U.S. influence in nuclear safety, nonproliferation and security.  We commend Senators Manchin and Risch for advancing legislation that will help maintain U.S. global leadership in commercial nuclear technology,” said Maria Korsnick, president and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute. “For the United States to achieve its own energy security, we need to invest in critical infrastructure including expanding nuclear fuel conversion and enrichment capabilities at home. This is a process that will take time and must be done in a way that does not put existing carbon-free generation – and tens of thousands of jobs – at risk. NEI agrees with the goal of the legislation introduced by Senators Manchin and Risch as it relates to bolstering U.S. capabilities, and we look forward to working with them to address fuel supply uncertainties and create a path to greater energy security while meeting our climate goals.”

“Done right, the export of U.S. advanced nuclear energy will be able to increase equitable access to clean energy for communities around the world. The International Nuclear Energy Act would provide the necessary resources for the United States to work with nuclear newcomer countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency to support the deployment of safe and secure nuclear plants across the globe. The Biden-Harris Administration has a finite window of opportunity to assert the United States’ leadership in climate diplomacy, including through advanced nuclear energy. This bill would finally scale our cooperation with allied nations on timely nuclear research, development, and deployment—including research through the state-of-the-art Versatile Test Reactor, a national user facility that would support decades of advanced nuclear innovation,” said Jackie Toth, Deputy Director, Good Energy Collective.

The  International Nuclear Energy Act would:

  • Establish an office to coordinate civil nuclear exports strategy; establish financing relationships; promote regulatory harmonization; enhance safeguards and security; promote standardization of licensing framework; and create an exports working group.
  • Create programs to facilitate international nuclear energy cooperation to develop financing relationships, training, education, market analysis, safety, security, safeguards and nuclear governance required for a civil nuclear program.
  • Require two biennial summits, one focused on nuclear safety, security and safeguards, and another for civil nuclear vendors to enhance cooperative relationships between private industry and government.
  • Establish a Strategic Infrastructure Fund Working Group to determine how to best structure a Fund to finance projects critical to national security.
  • Create fast-track procedures for deemed civil nuclear exports for countries defined by the Secretary of Energy.
  • Expand the Export-Import Bank program on Transformational Exports to include civil nuclear facilities and related goods.
  • Create the U.S. Nuclear Fuels Security Initiative to reduce and eventually eliminate reliance on Chinese and Russian nuclear fuels.

Full text of the International Nuclear Energy Act can be found here.

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