INHOFE/VOINOVICH INTRODUCE BILLS TO IMPROVE NUCLEAR SECURITY AND ENSURE THE GROWTH OF NUCLEAR POWER

WASHINGTON, DC ñ Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Security introduced three bills today related to nuclear power in the United States. The three bills include: reauthorization of the Price Anderson Act, nuclear security, and a bill to reauthorize the user fee program that accounts for NRCís annual budget. ìThe future of safe, clean, efficient power in the United States is nuclear energy,î Senator Inhofe said. ìThe bills Senator Voinovich and I introduced today will help ensure the growth and security of this critical energy sector.î ìThe growth of nuclear power is extremely important to our nationís energy security and for the protection of public health and the environment,î Senator Voinovich said. ìThese three bills address in a comprehensive fashion needed reauthorizations and reforms. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is facing challenges from a maturing workforce and a maturing industry and it needs to change to keep up. Licensing reforms, oversight reforms, better decommissioning oversight and better human capital flexibility will help the NRC and the industry provide for the energy needs of the country with the strong safety oversight the public needs and expects.î Nuclear Security: The bill includes additional authorities that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has requested of the Committee such as expansion of background checks, finger printing, and providing additional security tools for the personnel who guard these sites. The bill as introduced provides the base text for comprehensive discussion on nuclear security. Price-Anderson Act Amendments of 2005: The Price Anderson Act of 1957 established a liability insurance program for damages to the general public from potential nuclear incidents. The Act has been reauthorized four times with the latest occurring in the FY2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act when the program was extended to December 31, 2003. Although the program never expires for existing reactors, the program would not be available for new reactors until it is reauthorized. Recognizing the reauthorization of this program is absolutely essential for the growth of nuclear power in the nation, this bill reauthorizes the program until December 31, 2025. Variations of the bill have passed the EPW Committee and the full Senate over the past few congresses. Nuclear Fees Reauthorization Act of 2005: The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 established a program that requires licensees to provide 90 percent of the NRCís budget authority. This program expires after fiscal year 2005, meaning that the NRC could only collect 33 percent of its budget authority in fees for fiscal year 2006. The bill makes permanent the NRCís 90 percent fee recovery requirement. It also contains other provisions ñ several of which passed have been requested by the NRC and have passed the EPW Committee and full Senate over the past few congresses ñ on human capital and needed NRC regulatory reforms.