CBO COST ESTIMATE--S. 512
(Senate - June 20, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 105 (Tuesday, June 20, 2017)]
[Pages S3642-S3643]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       CBO COST ESTIMATE--S. 512

  Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, in compliance with paragraph 11(a) of 
rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on 
Environment and Public Works has obtained from the Congressional Budget 
Office an estimate of the costs of S. 512, the Nuclear Energy 
Innovation and Modernization Act, as reported from the committee on May 
25, 2017.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the cost estimate be 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

        S. 512--Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act

As reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on 
                              May 25, 2017


                                SUMMARY

       S. 512 would direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission 
     (NRC)--which licenses and regulates the use of radioactive 
     materials at civilian facilities such as nuclear reactors--to

[[Page S3643]]

     undertake certain activities related to establishing a 
     regulatory framework for licensing nuclear reactors that use 
     advanced technologies for either commercial or research-
     related purposes. The bill also would modify the NRC's 
     underlying authority to charge fees to entities that the 
     agency regulates and would authorize the Department of Energy 
     (DOE) to provide grants to developers of advanced nuclear 
     technologies to help pay for the costs of developing and 
     licensing such technologies. Finally, S. 512 would amend 
     existing law regarding the disposition of excess uranium 
     materials managed by DOE.
       CBO estimates that implementing S. 512 would cost $386 
     million over the 2018-2022 period, assuming appropriation of 
     the necessary amounts. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because 
     enacting the bill would affect direct spending; however, CBO 
     estimates that any such effects would be insignificant. 
     Enacting S. 512 would not affect revenues.
       CBO estimates that enacting S. 512 would not increase net 
     direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
     consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
       S. 512 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
     mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
     (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
     governments.


                ESTIMATED COST TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

       The estimated budgetary effect of S. 512 is shown in the 
     following table. The costs of this legislation fall within 
     budget function 270 (energy).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             2017      2018      2019      2020      2021      2022    2017-2022
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION a
 
Advanced Nuclear Energy Licensing Cost-
 Share Grants:
    Estimated Authorization Level........         0        87        88        90        92        93        450
    Estimated Outlays....................         0        26        53        80        90        91        340
Accelerated NRC Activities:
    Estimated Authorization Level........         0        10        10        10        10        10         50
    Estimated Outlays....................         0         7         9        10        10        10         46
    Total Changes:
        Estimated Authorization Level....         0        97        98       100       102       103        500
        Estimated Outlays................         0        33        62        90       100       101        386
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: NRC = Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
a CBO estimates that enacting the bill would have no significant effect on direct spending.

                           BASIS OF ESTIMATE

       For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 512 will be enacted 
     near the start of fiscal year 2018 and that amounts estimated 
     to be necessary will be provided at the start of each year. 
     Estimated outlays are based on historical spending patterns 
     for affected activities.
     Advanced Nuclear Energy Licensing Cost-Share Grants
       S. 512 would authorize DOE to provide grants to developers 
     of advanced nuclear technologies to accelerate the 
     development, licensing, and commercial deployment of those 
     technologies. Such grants would be available for a range of 
     costs related to those efforts, including fees charged by the 
     NRC for licensing-related activities. Based on an analysis of 
     information from DOE, CBO estimates that spending for such 
     assistance under S. 512 would require appropriations totaling 
     $450 million over the 2018-2022 period. That estimate is in 
     line with the total amount of funding provided by the 
     Congress for a six-year effort, now largely completed, to 
     support the development, certification, and licensing of 
     small modular reactors (a type of advanced nuclear 
     technology). Assuming appropriation of those amounts, CBO 
     estimates that outlays would total $340 million over the 
     2018-2022 period and $110 million after 2022.
     Accelerated NRC Activities
       Funding for the NRC--which totals approximately $1 billion 
     in 2017--is provided in annual appropriation acts. Under 
     current law, the agency is required to recover most of its 
     funding through fees charged to licensees and applicants; CBO 
     estimates that such fees, which are classified as 
     discretionary offsetting collections, will total nearly $900 
     million this year.
       S. 512 would require the NRC to establish a regulatory 
     framework for licensing advanced nuclear reactors, defined in 
     the bill as reactors that involve significant technological 
     improvements relative to those currently being constructed. 
     The bill specifies that any funding provided to the NRC for 
     activities related to developing that framework would be 
     excluded from the portion of the agency's budget that is 
     offset by fees the NRC collects. Based on an analysis of 
     information from the NRC about the anticipated costs of 
     establishing the proposed licensing regime within the 
     timeframe specified by the bill, CBO estimates that 
     implementing S. 512 would cost $46 million over the 2018-2022 
     period, mostly for salaries and expenses for technical 
     experts required to develop the necessary analyses and 
     regulations.
       In addition, starting in 2020, the bill would modify the 
     existing formula used to determine the amount of NRC fees. 
     CBO expects that the proposed modifications to the formula 
     used to set regulatory fees charged by the NRC could change 
     the amount of such fees collected in future years. Under both 
     current law and S. 512, the amount of such fees would depend 
     on the level of funding provided for a range of specific NRC 
     activities. Because CBO has no basis for predicting how much 
     funding will be provided for such activities in future years, 
     CBO cannot determine whether the resulting fees would be 
     higher or lower under S. 512 than under current law.


                      PAY-AS-YOU-GO CONSIDERATIONS

       S. 512 would amend exiting law regarding the disposition of 
     uranium materials managed by DOE. Under the bill, DOE would 
     be required to develop plans for marketing those materials 
     and to comply with annual limits on the volume of uranium 
     materials placed into commercial markets. Specifically, the 
     bill would cap sales and transfers at 2,100 metric tons per 
     year through 2025 and at 2,700 metric tons starting in 2026. 
     The bill also would expressly authorize DOE to market 
     materials derived from depleted uranium, which is one of the 
     by-products of the uranium enrichment process.
       According to DOE, uranium sales and transfers averaged 
     about 2,450 metric tons a year over the 2012-2015 period, but 
     fell to 2,100 metric tons in 2016. Using information from 
     studies done for the department on uranium markets, CBO 
     estimates that the quantity of uranium that will be disposed 
     over the 2018-2027 period under current law probably will 
     remain below 2,100 metric tons a year. Thus, CBO estimates 
     that the caps on sales and transfers of uranium materials in 
     S. 512 would have no significant effect on offsetting 
     receipts from those activities over the 2018-2027 period. 
     (Under current law, CBO estimates that the sales of those 
     materials will total about $800 million over the 2018-2027 
     period; however, CBO expects that only a portion of that 
     value, or $80 million, will be deposited in the Treasury as 
     offsetting receipts because of uncertainty surrounding DOE's 
     budgetary treatment of these transactions.)


           INCREASE IN LONG-TERM DIRECT SPENDING AND DEFICITS

       CBO estimates that enacting S. 512 would not increase net 
     direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
     consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.


               INTERGOVERMENTAL AND PRIVATE-SECTOR IMPACT

       S. 512 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
     mandates as defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on 
     state, local, or tribal governments.


                         PREVIOUS CBO ESTIMATE

       On June 12, 2017, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for S. 
     97, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017, 
     as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and 
     Natural Resources on March 30, 2017. Both bills contain 
     provisions that would authorize DOE to provide cost-share 
     grants to support the expedited development, licensing, and 
     commercial deployment of advanced nuclear technologies. 
     Because those provisions are substantively the same and the 
     estimated costs of implementing those provisions are the same 
     in both bills. The estimated increase in spending subject to 
     appropriation under S. 512 is greater than under S. 97 
     because the estimate for S. 512 includes additional costs for 
     the NRC to meet new requirements specified by that bill.


                         ESTIMATE PREPARED BY:

       Federal Costs: Megan Carroll and Kathleen Gramp; Impact on 
     State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Jon Sperl; Impact on 
     the Private Sector: Amy Petz.


                         ESTIMATE APPROVED BY:

       H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget 
     Analysis.

                          ____________________