tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 22, 2016 4:00am-5:11am EDT
location and our capabilities in that gap that you described. mr. king: mr. chairman. mr. mccain: i look forward to moving your nominations through the united states senate. this hearing is adjourned. mr. scaparrotti: thank you, chairman. ms. robinson: thank you, chairman. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
eastern book tv will run back-to-back programs of this year's pulitzer prize. go to booktv.org for the complete weekend schedule. >> we show case our student cam winner. c-span's annual competition for middle and high school students. this year's theme is road to the white house. one of our second prize high school winners is from klahoma.
last year i spent six months making a short film. i followed michael as he fought to get his son a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity. as i worked on this project i quickly learned there were many other cases like this. >> this has been the bloody summer of 2015. and although these are the instance that get the headlines of the iny fraction tragedies that occurred in the area of mental illness. >> actually much more common han many people realize. >> one in four people suffer
from some sort of mental illness. one, two, three, four. it's you, sir. and you next to him. you know who you are. that whole row isn't right. that's not good. >> since mental illness affects so many people shouldn't there be a system in place to treat it? >> the care varies a lot by tate to state. today i visit the state capital in oklahoma city to attend a budget hearing only mental health and substance abuse ervices.
>> most states just don't give much toward taking care of the mentally ill. >> so what are the issues that keep us from having an effective treatment system in place? what you feel like are the main issues with the way that mental llness is treated right now. >> at the state budget hearing, commissioner white spoke on what some of these issues actually are. >> the problem that we have, it is a door to get into the system is so narrow that two
thirds of oklahoma are stappeding on the outside of the door and only a third inside the door who need help. >> people contact us and they're not sure where to turn. >> insurance in the past have not paid well for mental health services. so it is more out of pocket expense and it's not cheap. for those who get services the outcomes are really good. the problem is we don't let the door le through to get help. >> i'm going to get to vote in the 2016 general election and i'm looking for a candidate whose going to address this issue. so i did some research and prepared a presentation of the candidates plans to address mental health. the only time it has been mentioned has been at a way to dodge discussions on gun control. >> this isn't about guns. this is about mental illness. >> we have people who have mental disturbances. >> do we need to do a better
job? you bet we do. >> there's nothing like a mass shooting to start a discussion n mental health. you can't lecture people on omething you got a d minus in. we need to get this. >> so if mental illness is such a big issue why is it not dealt with? >> it's still stigmatized. >> if i walk up to you like this you would likely understand that i have a physical impairment and wouldn't think that there's anything wrong with me as a person. but if i walked up to you like this and was suffering from a mental illness you might not understand that i'm still suffering from something that's outside of my control. and you could easily misinterpret it as being in a bad mood or having a character
flaw. >> i think stigma is a word that is lacking, prejudice and discrimination. now those are words getting at the truth. >> the other reason is the fact that it would mean more cost of taxpayers. what many people don't realize is that mental illness winds up costing us money no matter what. >> if you're currently in a facility the odds are you're probably dressed like this. >> our jails and prisons are our main place now. this is the population that people don't care about and so as a result of that there are not the resources out there to care for them. >> probably 2500, 2800 people with mental illness today. we have some people who have been in here 400 times. >> you're saying the prisons and the jails are the new asylums. >> let me put it like this.
the average cost of preventative treatment annually for person is about $2,000. that's the cost of one c-span second prize award plus the fan favorite award. however, the annual average cost of incarcerating somebody is about $19,000. you would have to win four times in a row in order to make that much money. >> it's a shame. the outcomes are terrible. we have to change. the we don't seem to be allocating resources. >> presidential candidates this is an issue that affects lots of americans and it is one we can't keep ignoring without having more tragedies and costs to the taxpayers. we need to be allocating more money for mental health resources. let's do something about this.
>> to watch all the prize winning documentaries, visit student cam.org. >> now, a senate hearing on the nuclear energy innovation and modernization act. a bill that would transform the commission's licensing process for new nuclear power plan. the n rrn c's executive director testified about developing a regulatory framework for the next generation of nuclear power technology. this is just over two hours.
>> i welcome members of the committee today. i appreciate you returning and as each witness knows you have five minutes for an oral statement and then we will take questions. but we're here today to i think examine an exciting topic and that's advanced nuclear reactors. i thank senator carper because he has a great interest. nuclear issues are somewhat new to me i'm learning these technologies have the potential to make great strides in advancing nuclear technology. this is a topic many are interested in because it's an essential component for an all the above technology. provide clean safe reliable and affordable energy to power our economy also providing thousands of jobs and millions
of dollars of benefit to our local community. it made valuable contributions to our energy security for years and we look forward to what comes next. advanced reactors have the potential to become cleaner safer and more secure. to better understand these technologies. the other purpose of the hearing is to examine the nuclear energy act which was introduced last week by my colleagues. s 2975 directs the nrc to develop a regulatory framework under which applications can be reviewed. in keeping with the nrc's safety and security missions. the existing regulations were designed around one technology, and are not well suited for tib no vasions under way. this is clearly an issue my colleagues need to address. efficient and timely decision
making at the nrc is crucial for our existing plants and emerging technologies. the bill modernizes the budget and fee structure. the existing industry needs to remain economically competitive and that will allow emerging technologies to grow. the nrc's safety and security mission is a vital one that must be accomplished efishtly nd with fiscal discipline. the american taxpayer, the rate paying customer and licensees are all entitled to the best possible management and administration of regulatory activities. this bill aligns with the principle. and i thank my colleagues for their hard work and bipartisanship to advance innovative new technologies, where our nation should lead the way not just for our energy security but also in the interest of our national security. only by leading can we hope to advance our nonproliferation goals.
with that, i'm anxious to hear senator carper's remarks and those of our witness. >> thanks for letting me be your wing man. t's good to be here today. i want to welcome to each of you each to see each of you again, for many years now. a chance to welcome others back and meet some for the first time. when our country began exploring civilian nuclear power, i don't know how many people had much of an idea how important this technology could be to the future of our energy supply. chernobyl and three mile island and facebook sheema caused a number of people both at home and around the world to question the viability of nuclear power but i think it is important for this clean
reliable technology has begun to grow again in recent years. given that development congress has an important role to play in ensuring that our nation invest wisely in nuclear while at the same time maintaining our focus on safety. ny may be unaware that the technology was invented in the united states. we led the world in manufacturing, construction, and in production. the jobs and the economic benefit of this growth stayed here at home for the most part. unfortunately this is no longer the case. many components are now only available for our international competitors. south koreans, japanese, now the chinese. while the united states continues to have more power plants than any other countries, china in particular are gaining quickly. at the same time our country's nuclear reactors are getting older and many will need to be replaced. some believe that our success
story may be winding down. but i believe like a distance runner nuclear power in america is just getting its second wind. albert einstein used to say with adversity lies opportunity. he was right then and today. a lot has faced adversity. there appears to be a fair amount of opportunity now. if we are smart we will seize the day and begin to replace . r reactors with new ones if we're smart about it i foresee an opportunity to develop and build the next generation of nuclear reactors on american soil. i foresee a chance to at some of our closed manufacturing plantsd to reopen, construction crews will be called back to work, and colleges will face a renewed demand for skilled nuclear technicians. in short i see an opportunity for the united states to once again lead the world in nuclear
technology. today's hearing is about how we seize this opportunity. decisions we make today will impact what types of nuclear reactors we will be operating in this country. 10, 20, even 50 years from now. there's been good progress of late and we will begin to replace new technology. new reactors in georgia and south carolina will ink rate some of the most up-to-date safety technology. creating thousands of new jobs. it is becoming increasingly likely that small modular reactors will become reality in this nation with the first reactors expected to become operational within the next degreeade. this is encouraging. we need to do better. i have also heard from businesses who believe that we can do better. over 50 companies are investing. today we're going to hear directly from a company making some of those investments.
as they make advancements we need to make sure our framework can keep pace. the nrc is considered the world's gold standard of nuclear regulatory agencies. however, science and technology evolve so must the nrc. in closing i believe the government in this country has a number of roles to play. i'm sure you agree. among them few are as important to creating nurturing environments for job creation and preservation. that includes making sure that we have affordable dependable energy and that we produce it safely in this country and in ways that diminish the threat of climate change. advances in nuclear energy can help us obtain that environment and provide a more promising future for our nation people and planet. i hope today we will learn about the roles if that promising future will be realized.
thank you. >> i think the chairman has requested. >> unanimous consent that i put my statement in the record. thank you. >> without objection. again i thank the witnesses and welcome you. you will give a five minute statement. your full testimony has been submitted for the record. then we will go through a round f questioning. senator booker i understand you would like to make a comment about the bill in advance of the attempt. >> i'm grateful, chairman, for this opportunity. thank you for giving me a chance to say a few words. i'm a senator with no name today. or the senator whose name shall not be mentioned. but again thank you, chair cap to. i seem to be doing this often but thanking senators for their partnership on this really important bill. american leadership on nuclear energy is absolutely critical.
the paris climate agreement set ambitious goals to target global warming to 1.5 cent grade above levels. but scientists agree that even if all countries meet their commitment we're not on track to meet these targets. not even close. beating the demand for energy while slashing carbon emissions presents a very difficult challenge for this generation. think about this. by 50e meeting targets require us to cut emissions by 70% while producing 70% more elect trystty. at's an incredibly difficult thing to do. i'm a big believer in energy efficiency and renewable energy. i thought with other senators to expand the tax credits last year for renewables. but in order to avert the worst effects we do not see any way
around the idea that we must substantially increase our nuclear energy capacity i am now back to normal in the coming back to decades. we have no choice but to increase nuclear capacity. provides a critical base bload power currently comprises more than 60% of our nation's free carbon free elect ristry generation. and right now in the united states we have five new reactors under construction. the first new commercial units in 30 years with several existing reactors have already been shut down prematurely and many more are at risk. we need to make sure that we see dozens of more private sector companies beginning to move into this area and help to produce an environment where they're making their billion dollars of investment. we desperately need sound long-term government policies that will support our existing fleet and sustained commitment
by the private sector to advance nuclear reactors that can be commercialized in the future. this bill takes several positive steps in that direction. first, the bill would direct nrc to develop new processes for advanced nuclear reactors. second the bill would over longer terms put in place new technology, framework and make licensing more efficient flexible and predictable while maintaining the safety and security missions. third, the bill would authorize a new cost sharing grant program that the department's energy that would help the first advanced reactor project that moved forward to pay for some of the costs at nrc. this bill would place a cap on the fees that existing nuclear reactors pay to the nrc while this cap may never be hit putting it in place will provide certainty and protection for existing fleets.
this is a critical challenge we have in our nation right now making sure we are meeting our energy needs dealing with the realities of climate change, and empowering business and innovation. i'm very happy to have working in a bipartisan fashion what is a solid bill helping us to take a step forward. thank you for providing me this opportunity to make an introduction to the bill. i look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses. >> a ten-second response. while we enjoy this bill and are cosponsoring this bill has nothing to do with global warming and this disaster you're going to see tomorrow what they call earth day in new york is an embarrassment and the president is not even going up for it. my motivation on this is when i say all of the above to save this country all energy includes nuclear. >> thank you. another bill sponsor senator crapeo would like to make introduction to the bill. >> i appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
senators and i have introduced legislation to ensure the nrc will be ready to license advanced designs as companies are ready to commercialize them. we have undertaken a deep dive into the underworkings of the commission through hearings and discussions with officials and stakeholders we have developed a plan to help modernize the commission and enable it to stay abreast in the nuclear industry. ur bill, nima, increases transparency and accountability. in the budget and fee structure through modernizing reforms that are based on years of epw oversight efforts. the measure also directs the agency to develop a technology inclusive framework enabling review of advanced set of technology.
this bring as great deal of transparency and accountability to the nrc. we want the commission to make changes to look at the commission's actions and understand what it is doing. in particular, the agency must be more transparent in its budgeting and fee process. this is especially true regarding the commission overhead costs. when the nrc talks about overhead costs it refers to activities that may be categorized as corporate support and mission indirect. at this point our bill only captures one portion of these overhead costs. the corporate support costs. because that is the obble portion that we can get the nrc to clearly label and define. the nrc must endeavor to make its budgeting information more transparent and accessible. some amount of overhead is necessary for all organizations. nonetheless the nrc needs to be able to clearly account for its overhead costs and the way it
uses fees from licenses to so many costs. clear and transparent processes are required for effective oversight. this is something i look forward to working with my colleagues on both in this bill and beyond. finally it's imperative that the licensing processes is transparent and takes into account past lessons learned. nima enables us to take a regulatory framework by creating a technology inclusive framework we're enabling them to review and license any design that it considers to be sache and security secure. we aren't forcing them to pick winners and losers by forcing it to allocate resources on one type of reactor or design. as a whole, nima provides important transparency accountability improvements and improves the communication between various stakeholder groups and the agency.
enabling better transparency accountability and communication, are critical to ensuring the nrc remains the are preimminent safety and security regulators. provides more security. and among stakeholder groups. creasing the nrc's ability will increase its ability to perform its mission and share information. thank you very much. >> i would like to go to the witnesses but i understand the original sponsor senator white house has some comments. >> thank you very much. let me thank chairman inhoff and senator crapeo and senator booker for the work we have done together to try to stream line this process. the sense that i have and that brought me to this conversation s that the approval process at
nrc is an obstacle course that is designed for a particular type of technology but is not well suited to technologies that aren't that technology. indeed, the irrelevancey i think somebody mentioned to me is two plus two equals cheese. it just doesn't sit or make sense at all. we do have new technologies that are emerging. they have enormous promise for a carbon constrained world. we have done in america a lot of the leadership design for them. but if we can't get them through a process to where they're actually creating elect rons, then we haven't done ourselves any good. so i look forward to pursuing this. i would add two brief points. one is that it should remain i
think a very high priority goal of this committee and this process to continue to point towards ways -- reuse, i should say, spent nuclear fuel. some of these technologies hold out at least the promise of taking the enormous stockpile of what is now dangerous nuclear waste for which we have no means of dispostal and which will be very expensive to deal with and repurpose that into, as one person told me, potentially trillions of dollars of virtually free power. so that i think needs to be a significant subordinate goal as we go forward into this process. the last thing i will say is i think it's a tragedy that we are losing some of our nuclear facilities to an economic problem that there is no payment for their carbon free
power. if a nuclear plant is not safe then i am the first person to want to shut it down yesterday. but if the only reason that it is being shut down is because it can't compete economically with a natural gas plan and the only reason it can't compete with a natural gas plant is because it gets no benefit for being carbon free is because throughout our government we recognize there is value to being carbon free then what we are doing is art fishly damaging an industry that should be doing better. and we need to figure out a way to make sure that there is in fact a payment to this industry for the carbon free value of the elect rons that they produce. with that i will close my comments. i thank again my colleagues on this bill for their leadership. i'm delighted to be working with them. >> thank you.
so we'll proceed with the witnesses. i'm going to begin on my left with dr. christina balk whose the division director general atomics innertial fusion and advanced figs. welcome. >> thank you very much. i would like to thank chairman cap to, the ranking member carper for holding this hearing. and chairman inhoff, senators crapeo, white house, and booker for their legislation. and of course thanks to my home senate state senator ranking member boxer. my name is christina bauk and i'm the vice president of nuclear technologies and materials of general atomics. g.a. is a privately held company with over 60 years of experience in nuclear energy and one where we continuously push the technological envelope. i was asked to descripe what nuclear reactors are and what we believe may be appropriate issues for you to consider when
developing public policy for encouraging the development of new reactors. we believe advanced reactors are vital to making nuclear power competitive and vital to reversing the decline of the industry. i would like to start by noting the term advanced reactors is somewhat loosely used. some people consider them to be nonlight water reactors while others mean new light water reactors. we believe an advanced rearkt concept is one whose design is guide bid the four core principles that help ensure economic success. these are to produce significantly cheaper elect trystty, to be samb, to produce significantly less waste and reduce proliferation risk. we believe every worthy reactor concept must address these four
core principles jointly if it is to be an advanced reactor. it is not positioned to excel in just one with disregard to the other. now i would like to discuss ga's reactor concept. this is one of many of the advanced reactor concepts that was referred to before. ga has a concept which is an energy multiplyor module and as a way of illustrating i would like to discuss this reactor. ga chose to employ innovative design and engineered materials to meet the four foreprinciples. what makes it compelling to think about nuclear reactors and advanced nuclear reactors now is that in the past 30 years scientists have made unprecedented advances in understanding materials. we at g.a. know how to manipulate these materials and we are trying to revitalize the
nuclear industry with them. so now let's consider each of the principles i mentioned. the first is cost. the drive to make a cheaper reactor led us to design a much smaller reactor that would produce 60% more power from the same amount of heat. second is safety. for radical improvement in safety we use engineered ser amic materials to hold the field that work in intense radiation and withstand more than two times higher temperatures than current reactor materials today. they would not be subjected to failure like those in facebook sheema. third -- fukishima. third is waste. the reactor can also use spent light water reactor waste as fuel thus turning the waste in the energy. fourth is nonproliferation.
we keep the fuel in the reactor for 30 years without the need for refueling or repositioning the fuel rods. this means we access the core once much less than the 20 times that the current reactors need for existing refueling. we calculate that em squared will produce power at 40% lower cost than today's reactors and be safe. as for any new reactor design this will require extensive reactions with the n.r.c. and we think involving them early is important to inform the esign for a safer reactor. requires upfront investments. some may not pay off. and even those that are successful can take up to ten years. while ga has invested $40 llion it is hard to divert
scarce dollars at this point in time. this committee's objective, hopefully as we've defined and outlined here, we suggest it would be relatively inexpensive to involve the nrc early with potentially high impact. we suggest the committee consider authorizing the appropriation of 5 million at first to provide services to developers of advanced reactors and perhaps relatively low cost share of safe percent. test necessary, it plays a critical role in innovation. i would like to say this is a very exciting time in nuclear energy right now. i love that i get to put science in practice and engage the next generation of scientists and engineers and help meet the energy's needs
creating the new way to produce clean and safe power. thank you for the efforts of this committee and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. i would be pleased to answer questions. >> thank you. our next witness is dr. ashley finen who is the project director of clean air task force. welcome. >> thank you. members of this subcommittee, thank you for holding this hearing and for giving me the opportunity to testify. my name is ashley finen and i am policy directedor for the nuclear innovation alliance a nonprofit organization dedicated to leading advanced nuclear innovation. the nia was established by a cross cutting group whobbled that advanced nuclear energy is needed to ensure a better future. this group includes innovators, academics, environmental organizations, industry groups, and other experts and stakeholders. the world will double or triple its energy demand in the next
30 years. this is driven by a growing middle class in the developing world and the need to bring electricity to 1.4 billion people who lack it today. at the same time, many analyses point to the pressing need to reduce global carbon emissions by 80% or more by 2050 if we are to avoid the worst impact of climate change. this is an essential part of the solution. in the united states and elsewhere, dozens of innovative startup companies and other stakeholders are pioneering designs to lower risk and cost. but the transition from design to commercialization and deployment both in the u.s. and globally has been slow. current regulation confronts the licensing of advanced technologies with two major challenges. first nrc design certification or approval calls for enormous front-loaded investment during
a licensing phase without a stage structure to provide applicants with clear early feedback on an agreed schedule. current second regulation oversees technology. it must be adapted to the features and characteristics which rely on substantially different fuel cooling and safety system and require novel operating strategies. over the past two years, the nia has been developing strategies to facilitate the efficient cost effective and predictable licensing of advanced nuclear power plants in the united states. these are based on consultations with innovators, experts, regulators, invest vestors. e compiled the work into strategies for licensing which is issued on april 12. the report has been provided to the committee and is available to the public on our website. it discusses in greater detail
the topics i'm touching on today. to address the nature of the current regulations a more technology inclusive approach is needed. a risk informed licensing approach will allow us to review the technology. this would incorporate both modern methods and traditional approaches to provide a safety review. s 2795 provides for the nrc to do work in the area without impacting the costs incurred to the existing plant. i would like to direct your attention to figure one right here. this shows skemically the risk investment profile of nuclear energy projects relative to the licensing process today and the large monetary and testimony porl hurdle of approval. figure two illustrates a staged approach that provides interim feed back. it aligns better with private
sector development by using a licensing project plan topical reports and other mechanisms. it can provide clear and early feedback to investors and developers. this approach maintains the rigor and high standards of the nrc and facilitys the advancement that produces less waste or even consumes it. s. 2795 authorizes nrc to do the crucial work with dedicated funding. this is important for two reasons. it helps the nrc develop a rigorous regulatory infrastructure to support the review of their technologies. significantly, it does this without diluting funds used to operate plants. it also allows for immediate adjustments providing a more efficient predictable process. thank you for this opportunity to testify. s. 2795 is needed to enable
progress. i would be happy to answer questions today or in the future. >> thank you. our next witness is maria korsnik whose the chief operating officer nuclear energy institute. welcome. >> thank you so much. on behalf of the nuclear energy industry i thank the committee for considering this bill. introduction is well timed. nuclear energy makes a significant contribution to our clean air quality, the reliability of our supply, and our national security. yet, regulatory inefficiency and cost are constraining our use of this valuable natural resource. if not addressed, it will impede the deployment of innovative reactor technologies here in the world. despite our effort to reduce this budget fees continue to be
excessive and the limitations of the mandated 90% fee rule creates problems. the nrc's budget continues to hover at approximately $1 billion despite significant declines as plants have shut down. in particular, according to ernst and young the nrc spends 37% of its budget on this cost more than 10% higher than some of its peer agencies. cause the nrc must collect 90% and the budget has not declined, remaining licensees are responsible for paying these higher annual fees. with several recent premature shutdowns and additional reactors decommissioning in the coming years, the current fee structure guarantees that remaybing licensees will continue to bear even higher
annual fees. the cost of licensing actions also continues to increase well beyond the cost of living. for example, since 2000, the rc review fees for license reentrepreneurials have been an eightfold increase in review costs. objectively one would expect a decrease. now, this is particularly notable as we look ahead and want second license reentrepreneurials for some of our plants. these illustrate a fundamental change to the fee recovery structure is in fact needed and s. 2795 repeels the 90% fee recovery requirement and replaces it with a much more rational approach. it requires the nrc to expressly identify annual expenditures anticipated for licensing and other activities requested. the legislation would also help drive greater efficiency in the
nrc's operation. in turn it would drive down annual fees by limiting corporate support percentages although we do recommend that the caps be lower than the 28% level proposed by this legislation. complementing the limit, the bill would cap annual fees for operating power reactors at the fiscal year 2015 level. we also recommend that it apply to all licensees. so nonreactor licensees as well. s 2795 also affirms congress' view that this country can and should be a leader in advanced reactor technology. crrges l effectively en rc to think differently. in short, an all of the above approach.
the bill calls for technology inclusive framework use of a risk informed performance based technique and a staged licensing process will in fact be a good helpful step forward. developers will be able to demonstrate progress to investors in this first of a kind project thus obtaining necessary capital resources as they achieve milestones. too often we hear from our members that regulatory uncertainty is the greatest impediment to new plant deployment in the united states. s. 2795 tackles top line issues now standing in the way of innovation. in sum, we must be thoughtful and deliberate in the way we plan for advanced technology but must also begin today if we are to meet the potentially enormous demands by 2030 for u.s. technology not only here but in the international market. senators inhoff, crapeo, white house, and booker, on behalf of
the industry i want to thank you very much for taking a strong leadership role. we look forward to continuing working with you and your staffs as it progresses through congress. i hope it is enacting expeditiously. thank you very much. >> thank you. our next witness is dr. edwin limon who is the senior scientists union of concerned scientists, global security program. welcome. >> thank you. chairman captaino ranking member carper and other distinguished members of the subcommittee. my name is edwin limon i am a senior scientists. on behalf of my organization, i would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on this very important subject that is nuclear energy innovation and the critical role of effective regulation to ensure nuclear safety and security. opposed ther pro nor
to nuclear power. our position on nuclear power is not ideological but pragmatic. we do believe nuclear power could have a role to play in helping to mitigate the threat of climate change but this really can only happen if nuclear power is sufficiently safe and security. that means if it is to grow there must be a corresponding increase in safety and security otherwise the risks to public health and the environment will increase. and nuclear power could take itself out of the running if there is another event like the march 2011 fukishima disaster. just over five years ago japan was a world leader and had over 50 operating power plants. but too complacent about the dangers the reactors face. today only two of their reactors are running and a battle is raging to start two
others. the u.s. needs to do everything it can to avoid repeating japan's mistakes and congress must ensure the nrc continues to serve as an independent regulator both overseeing existing plants and licensing new ones. we believe the most efficient and cost effective way to enhance reactor safety and security is through evolutionry improvements and current designs and strengthening oversights but we do acknowledge new novel technologies have the potential to achieve these goals. but experience has shown there is no quick or easy fixes. although each new rearkt type has advocates who claim that their preferred designs have benefits for safety, proliferation or scommick mpetitiveness, such, reality is a lot messier. need it had investment needed
both private and public investment in nuclear development should be focused on concepts that have the greatest chance of meeting goals for enhanced safety and security for economic viability. cutting through the hype and identifying best prospects is a major challenge. for this reason we need a thorough peer reviewed process to be part of any program that's going to provide supports whether at national labs or in the private sector. now, i would like to focus my remarks on s 2795 fundamentally we believe that nrc's regulations are not strong enough today to achieve the level of safety and security we need on the post fukesheema era. we don't agree that the licensing processes are too stringent somehow need to be weaken. some argue that nrc's competitiveness allowing
countries like china to get ahead. but we think the opposite is true. the gold standard as senator carper has pointed out, is a good brand and so nrc's reputation for rigorous safety only enhances that. we don't think we should be engaged with china in a race to the bottom just to secure customs. we believe the focus of the bill on licensing is misplaced and will do little to facilitate the deployment of advanced reactors. the process may be a convoont target but we think it's being scape goaded for more formidible barriers. these include lack of support, the high cost and long time needed, the lack of a tilt i want rest making those investments and the failure of the so-called nuclear power entrepreneurs to put any significant money into the
projects that they espouse. and we don't think the nrc's licensing process is a factor into the deployment. as a result, we don't think that the prescriptions in 2759 are the problem. the problem is the cost and difficulty of obtaining the analyses and data sufficient to satisfy the requirement and ensure requirements can be licensed and operated safety. this is the fundamental issue we think congress needs to address. so in summary we think that the legislation is premature. we would offer that the national skead my of sciences first review the systemic obstacles to licensing and deployment of advanced reactors including all the issues we mentioned and whether the specific prescriptions in changing regulations would be efficient and effective in achieving these goals. in conclusion, the future of nuclear power depends crucially on the nrc's credibility as an effective regulator. we think congress should reject
any attempt to short circuit nrc's safety reviews and help ensure will result in clear improvements and safe operation. thank you. >> our next witness is mr. victor mccree, the executive director of the operations. >> thank you and good morning. chairman, ranking member, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, i appreciate the opportunity to testify this morning. i appear before you today representing the technical staff of the u.s. nuclear regulatory commission. i plan to briefly discuss the n.r.c.'s current and planned about tivelts to review an advanced design and to offer nrc staff views on senate bill 2795 the nuclear energy innovation and modernization act. a number of advanced nonlight water reactor designs that employ innovative design features are under development. the nrc has the licensing and
oversight authority over commercial advanced reactors and is ready to work with potential applicants to prepare for and review applications for these reactors. however, the nrc is also considering the extent to which enhancement to the existing licensing framework could increase the efficiency, timeliness and predictability of our safety and environmental reviews. our objective force the activities i will discuss with you today is to strategically prepare for nonlight water reactor applications commensurate with the development of industry plans. however, our overall goal is again to create a more effective efficient clear and predictable licensing process for safety review. with this in mind and within available resources the staff is pursuing a multipart strategy to prepare for a review of nonlight water reactor technologies. the president's fiscal year 2017 budget request includes $5 illion in nonfee recoverable
activities for this strategy. it will be used to facilitate the preparation to undertake efficient and effective safety reviews of advanced rearkt technologies. we plan to pursue activities in three primary areas. licensing infrastructure, technical preparation, and stakeholder outreach. first, within licensing infrastructure activities we will optimize the regulatory framework and licensing process for advanced reactor safety reviews. second our technical activities will evaluate clarify and resolve critical technical and policy issues that need to be addressed for effective safety reviews. finally we will expand upon our outreach activities to proactively engage key stakeholders to ensure all parties will be ready to proceed to the development and review of new reactor designs.
our strategy reflects insights we've gained from many years for the reaction and community. we believe this strategy will enable the resolution of novel policy issues and lead to the development of design criteria, regulatory guidance, and industry codes and standards for nonlight water reactor designs. by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of nonlight water reactor reviews this strategy will reduce uncertainty and business risk. the nrc's advanced reactor program is one of several topics addressed in senate bill 2795 consistent with my role, my comments represent the nrc staff's assessment of factual issues associated with the draft veshes of the bill. based on our preliminary review the bill would require the nrc to undertake a number of activities related to developing plans strategies and rule making associated with the
licensing of reactors and test reactors and report on those to congress. significant time and resources will be required over several years to implement the full range of additional activities described in the bill particularly with regard to the rule making required by the bill. another area covered by the bill is performance and reporting. these would require the nrc to develop performance metrics and to stones and to report congress for certain delays. this would require nrc to develop milestone schedules for many for which such milestones are prepared. we believe we currently have performance metrics to provide the desired outcome. these recognize the need to adapt to schedule change that is may arise through an applicant licensee or performance and account for security issues changes in licensee plans and so forth.
as written, the proposed requirements may limit ncc's flexibilities in this area. in closing i welcome the ideas for enhancing the performance and success of our mission. chairman, ranking member, and members of the subcommittee, this concludes my formal remarks. i thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and would be pleased to respond to your questions. >> thank you. he final witness, chairman usnrc. thank you. welcome. >> it is indeed a pleasure to be here today before the committee in which i used to work as a counsel and one in which i testify on many occasions as an nrc commissioner. today i'm appearing as chair of the council advanced reactors task force although my full time occupation is an attorney. in addition to my full testimony i ask that letters from seven advanced reactor
developers supporting this legislation be included in the record. my testimony will focus on how the nrc conducts its business as well as mixed use reactor portion of the bill. we applaud the overhead and fee caps as well as the elements supporting the development and deployment. on february 22 we issued a framework for licensing modernization white pape cher outlined many provisions contained in the bill. while we will suggest a few additional areas of improvement we are committed to working with the committee and its staff to promptly move this legislation forward. when i first became a commission anywhere 1998 the then chairman of this committee senator inhoff, lead the way in efforts to oversee the nrc. consistent with maintaining protecting people and the environment the commission with
the full support of this committee worked to right size the achesy consistent tw a level of activities for the nrc. at that time the agency had approximately 3400 employees and we were able to reduce it down to 280 principally through attrition yet not without any sacrifice. today the agency face it is same challenge. i understand and sympathize with the concerns voysed regarding the size of the agency, the increase in licensing review time and the growth of overhead activities which is inconsistent with the current number of licensees. while we have made great strides in the aim i believe further accomplishments can be plisht while at the same time maintaining safety and inspection activities. i support the provisions of s 2759 which would limit the
overhead and place appropriate caps on the growth of agency fees. as was the case when i appeared before this committee over 15 years ago, i believe the amount of fees placed on individual licensees is not appropriate and should not cover inherently governmental functions in overhead. i believe that the provisions appropriately balance the important nonlicensee activities which should be born in general revenues and those by user fees. during the past decade the u.s. has maintain its leadership to designs including passive generation three plus reactors currently being deployed in georgia and south carolina. as well as small modular light water nuclear reacts heading toward deployment. f the u.s. is to be successful in deploying a new fleet, congress must consider significant new policy changes.
in addition to funding an infrastructure a modern licensing framework is needed to develop deployment technologies. currently the process is perceived as one of the largest risk factors confronting private developers. the proposed licensing process changes envisioned will help to address this gap. additionally, congress should provide additional resources to both nrc and dough as well as direct into focus and mobilizing resources and expertise to enable the deployment of advanced reactors. we believe section 7 will allow the agency to create a modern risk informed technology neutral framework to enable the development of the appropriate regulations without passing these costs or. advanced reactor technical performance criteria are required to finalize generic
design criteria as well as source term emergency planning and similar requests. we believe there are two areas where further enhancements are warrented. appropriate funding to reduce the fees born by reactor developers and a specific prelicensing review program. while the nrc is not a promoter it is appropriate for the commission to engage in early dialogue with advanced reactor developers. currently we have very limited communication with these developers and when it does it must charge hourly fees $268 per nrc staff member who attends these meetings. as members our early stage in entrepreneurly driven private companies they lack the resources necessary to finance these activities. we support section 9 of the bill regarding the dough grant program. we believe this is an appropriate development. we would say we think it could be further enhanced for early
stage engagement at no cost with perhaps the 50/50 share and later stage the licensing process. collectively we believe this will allow the free market to pick losers and winners. section 7 b calls to establish stages in the commercial nuclear rearkt process we believe it is generally consistent with a white paper that the bill should be strengthened by irning rating specific language requiring the