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115th Congress    }                                    {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                    {       115-557

======================================================================



 
           NUCLEAR ENERGY RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

 February 13, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

     Mr. Smith of Texas, from the Committee on Science, Space, and 
                  Technology, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 4378]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 4378) to direct the Secretary of 
Energy to carry out the construction of a versatile reactor-
based fast neutron source, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Committee Statement and Views....................................    00
Section-by-Section...............................................    00
Explanation of Amendments........................................    00
Committee Consideration..........................................    00
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................    00
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................    00
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............    00
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................    00
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................    00
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................    00
Unfunded Mandate Statement.......................................    00
Earmark Identification...........................................    00
Committee Estimate...............................................    00
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...    00

                     Committee Statement and Views


                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    The purpose of H.R. 4378, the ``Nuclear Energy Research 
Infrastructure Act of 2017,'' is to provide for technological 
innovation in nuclear energy through the prioritization of a 
nuclear energy user facility in the Department of Energy (DOE) 
national laboratory system.
    This legislation directs the Department to construct a 
Versatile Neutron Source (VNS), defined as a research reactor 
capable of providing fast neutron irradiation services. This 
facility will enable next generation nuclear energy research 
and facilitate private sector investment and development of 
advanced reactor technologies in the United States.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    DOE's national laboratory complex originated with the 
Manhattan project and currently provides the facilities and 
expertise necessary to conduct research and development (R&D) 
for military and civilian applications of nuclear energy. DOE 
funds civilian nuclear energy R&D through the national labs, 
universities, and the private sector. DOE manages long-term R&D 
programs, employs highly trained scientists, and is capable of 
constructing and operating research infrastructure in the 
national interest that the private sector cannot undertake.
    The Committee recognizes that constructing and maintaining 
best-in-the-world user facilities enables research conducted by 
DOE and by industry partners, and facilitates revolutionary 
discoveries in nuclear energy. The next transformative 
breakthroughs in innovative nuclear energy technologies will 
likely arise from a strong foundation in early-stage research, 
particularly in the study of fast neutrons.
    The Department has unique authority under the Atomic Energy 
Act of 1954, as amended, to construct and operate nuclear 
reactors for R&D, activities that would otherwise require a 
license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or the 
Commission). However, the Department has not brought a civilian 
research reactor online in almost four decades. As the NRC 
draws the majority of its funding from the currently operating 
reactor fleet, the Commission remains heavily focused on 
regulating one specific technology class and is not well suited 
to advance non-light water reactors in a timely manner.
    The United States also lacks sufficient capability to 
conduct physical experiments for materials science, chemistry, 
and fuels R&D in the fast neutron spectrum or in a liquid 
fueled reactor system.
    In the 114th Congress, the Committee advanced H.R. 4084, 
the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, which 
authorized the Department to develop high-end computational 
tools to model and simulate nuclear phenomena, private 
development of experimental reactors and related experiments at 
DOE-owned sites, and construction of the VNS, a research 
reactor capable of producing fast neutrons, in order to enable 
rare experiments and validate computational models.
    H.R. 4378 authorizes existing Office of Nuclear Energy 
funding to construct the VNS, ensuring the Department will 
invest in research infrastructure that will enable scientists 
and engineers to conduct the necessary experiments to develop 
new nuclear energy technologies and advance scientific 
knowledge. This legislation also requires that to the maximum 
extent practicable, the Secretary of Energy shall ensure that 
the start of full operations of the VNS occurs before December 
31, 2025.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    On December 11, 2014, the Energy Subcommittee held a 
hearing titled, ``The Future of Nuclear Energy.'' Witnesses 
were: The Honorable Peter Lyons, Assistant Secretary for 
Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Ashley Finan, 
Senior Project Manager, Energy Innovation Project, Clean Air 
Task Force; Mr. Mike McGough, Chief Commercial Officer, NuScale 
Power; Dr. Leslie Dewan, Co-founder and Chief Executive 
Officer, Transatomic Power; Mr. Daniel Lipman, Executive 
Director, Policy Development, Nuclear Energy Institute.
    On January 28, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled, ``Supercomputing and American Technology Leadership.'' 
Witnesses were: Mr. Norman Augustine, Board Member, Bipartisan 
Policy Center; Dr. Roscoe Giles, Chairman, DOE Advanced 
Scientific Computing Advisory Committee; Mr. Dave Turek, Vice 
President, Technical Computing, IBM; Dr. James Crowley, 
Executive Director, Society for Industrial and Applied 
Mathematics.
    On May 13, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled, ``Nuclear Energy Innovation and the National Labs.'' 
Witnesses were: Dr. Mark Peters, Associate Laboratory Director, 
Energy and Global Security, Argonne National Laboratory; Mr. 
Frank Batten, Jr., President, The Landmark Foundation; Mr. 
Nathan Gilliland, CEO, General Fusion; Dr. John Parmentola, 
Senior Vice President, Energy and Advanced Concepts, General 
Atomics.
    On June 17, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled, ``Department of Energy Oversight: Energy Innovation 
Hubs.'' Witnesses were: Dr. Harry A. Atwater, Director, Joint 
Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP); Dr. Jess Gehin, 
Director, Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water 
Reactors (CASL); Dr. George Crabtree, Director, Joint Center 
for Energy Storage Research (JCESR); Dr. Alex King, Director, 
Critical Materials Institute (CMI).
    On July 29, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled, ``A Review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's 
Licensing Process.'' The witness was The Honorable Stephen G. 
Burns, Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    On November 18, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a 
hearing titled, ``Recommendations of the Commission to Review 
the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories.'' 
Witnesses were: Mr. TJ Glauthier, Co-Chair, Commission to 
Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories; 
Dr. Jared Cohon, Co-Chair, Commission to Review the 
Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories; Dr. Peter 
Littlewood, Director, Argonne National Laboratory.
    On November 19, 2015, Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy 
Weber introduced H.R. 4084, the Nuclear Energy Innovation 
Capabilities Act.
    On December 3, 2015, the Energy Subcommittee held a hearing 
titled ``H.R. 4084, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities 
Act.'' Witnesses were: Mr. John Kotek, Acting Assistant 
Secretary, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy; 
Dr. Dale Klein, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, 
University of Texas; Mr. Ray Rothrock, Partner Emeritus, 
Venrock.
    On January 21, 2016, Sen. Mike Crapo introduced S. 2461, 
companion legislation to H.R. 4084, in the Senate. This 
legislation was adopted as an amendment to S. 2012, the Energy 
Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 87-4 on January 28, 
2016.
    On February 26, 2016, H.R. 4084 passed the House by voice 
vote.
    On March 22, 2016, the Committee held a hearing titled, 
``An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the Department of 
Energy for Fiscal Year 2017.'' The witness was The Honorable 
Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.
    On May 18, 2016, H.R.4909, the National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which included the text 
of H.R. 4084 as an amendment, passed the House by recorded 
vote, 277-147.
    On June 28, 2017, the Energy Subcommittee and the Research 
and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing titled, ``Material 
Science: Building the Future.'' Witnesses were: Dr. Matthew 
Tirrell, Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Chief 
Research Officer, Argonne National Laboratory; Dr. Laurie 
Locascio, Acting Associate Director for Laboratory Programs and 
Director, Material Measurement Laboratory, National Institute 
of Standards and Technology; Dr. Adam Schwartz, Director, Ames 
Laboratory; Dr. Fred Higgs, John and Ann Doerr Professor of 
Mechanical Engineering, Rice University.
    On January 11, 2017, Energy Subcommittee Chairman Weber 
introduced H.R. 431, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities 
Act of 2017.
    On January 24, 2017, H.R. 589, the Department of Energy 
Research and Innovation Act introduced by Chairman Lamar Smith, 
which included the text of H.R. 431 as Title IV, passed the 
House by voice vote.
    On July 19, 2017, the Committee held a hearing titled, 
``Energy Innovation: Letting Technology Lead.'' Witnesses were: 
Dr. Jacob DeWitte, President and CEO, Oklo; Dr. Gaurav N. Sant, 
Associate Professor and Henry Samueli Fellow, Department of 
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Henry Samueli School of 
Engineering and Applied Science, University of California, Los 
Angeles; Dr. Venky Narayanamurti, Benjamin Peirce Research 
Professor of Technology and Public Policy, John A. Paulson 
School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University; 
Mr. Kiran Kumaraswamy, Market Development Director, AES Energy 
Storage.
    On November 13, 2017, H.R. 4378, the Nuclear Energy 
Research Infrastructure Act of 2017, was introduced by Energy 
Subcommittee Chairman Weber and referred to the Committee on 
Science, Space, and Technology.
    On November 15, 2017, the Committee approved and ordered 
reported H.R. 4378 by voice vote.

                            COMMITTEE VIEWS

Versatile Neutron Source

    H.R. 4378 authorizes the construction of the VNS to provide 
the necessary infrastructure to enable experiments to advance 
scientific knowledge, validate computational models, and 
develop new nuclear energy technologies. This includes the 
capability to provide fast neutron spectrum irradiation and the 
capacity for upgrades to accommodate new or expanded research 
needs to maximize the user base for this research facility.
    In order to ensure the on-schedule, on-budget construction 
of this project, the Committee included a timeline and 
sufficient annual authorizations in this legislation requiring 
the Department to complete the VNS by the close of 2025. 
However, the Committee encourages the Department to design this 
facility in such a way that it may accommodate expansions and 
upgrades to enable new testing scenarios that may not be 
available in 2025 timeframe. The Committee expects the 
Department to pursue every available option to adhere to the 
timeline described in the legislation.
    The Committee also encourages the Department to fully 
consider options to construct this facility under its existing 
authority pursuant to Sec. 110 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 
(42 U.S.C. 2140), and to explore opportunities to incorporate 
technical assistance from the NRC for analysis relevant to the 
design, construction, and operation of the VNS.
    The Committee finds that this authorization will provide 
the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy with a long-term funding 
priority that clearly communicates a U.S. commitment to 
developing advanced nuclear technologies, and will encourage 
the private sector to invest in the development of advanced 
reactor technologies in the United States.

                           Section-by-Section


Sec. 1. Short title

    Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2017.

Sec. 2. Versatile Neutron Source

    This section would authorize the construction of the VNS 
over eight years. This facility will provide a reactor-based 
source of fast neutrons for nuclear energy research, and enable 
scientists in academia and the private sector to advance 
scientific knowledge, validate computational models, and 
conduct experiments that would otherwise not be possible in 
order to develop next generation materials, fuels, and nuclear 
energy technologies.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    There were no amendments to this bill.

                        Committee Consideration

    On November 15, 2017, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered reported favorably the bill, H.R. 4378, by voice vote, 
a quorum being present.

              Application of Law to the Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch where the bill relates to the terms and conditions of 
employment or access to public services and accommodations. 
This bill provides for technological innovation in nuclear 
energy through the construction of a nuclear energy user 
facility in the DOE national laboratory system. As such, this 
bill does not relate to employment or access to public services 
and accommodations.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    H.R. 4378 provides for technological innovation in nuclear 
energy through the construction of a nuclear energy user 
facility in the DOE national laboratory system.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 4378 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of 
another Federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                  Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    The Committee estimates that enacting H.R. 4378 does not 
direct the completion of any specific rule makings within the 
meaning of 5 U.S.C. 551.

                     Federal Advisory Committee Act

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandate Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement as to 
whether the provisions of the reported include unfunded 
mandates. In compliance with this requirement the Committee has 
received a letter from the Congressional Budget Office included 
herein.

                         Earmark Identification

    H.R. 4378 does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of Rule XXI.

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 4378. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the Committee has 
included in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for H.R. 4378 from the Director of 
Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, December 4, 2017.
Hon. Lamar Smith,
Chairman, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4378, the Nuclear 
Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Megan 
Carroll.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 4378--Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act of 2017

    Summary: H.R. 4378 would authorize appropriations for the 
Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a test reactor to 
support research and development of advanced nuclear reactor 
technologies. Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, 
CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost nearly $2 
billion over the 2018-2027 period.
    Enacting H.R. 4378 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting H.R. 4378 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 4378 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary effect of H.R. 4378 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 270 
(energy).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                  By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     2018    2019    2020    2021    2022    2023    2024    2025    2026    2027   2018-2022  2018-2027
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                     INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
 
Authorization Level...............................      35     100     200     260     340     350     350     350       0       0        935      1,985
Estimated Outlays.................................      11      41     101     172     250     305     338     349     245     140        575      1,952
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of estimate: H.R. 4378 would authorize appropriations 
totaling nearly $2 billion for DOE to establish, before 
calendar year 2026, a nuclear test reactor to support the 
research and development of advanced nuclear technologies. The 
bill also would specify technical capabilities that the 
proposed reactor must provide and would direct DOE to operate 
it as a national user facility that would be available for 
external use by nonfederal entities. Finally, the bill would 
direct DOE to consult the private sector, universities, 
national laboratories, and other federal agencies when it 
developed such a facility.
    According to DOE, the agency is currently assessing the 
need for a test reactor similar to the one envisioned under 
H.R. 4378, the costs of which are uncertain. Assuming 
appropriation of the specified amounts, CBO estimates that 
federal spending to support the development of such a facility 
would total nearly $2 billion over the 2018-2027 period. That 
estimate is based on historical spending patterns for similar 
activities administered by DOE.
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Increase in long-term direct spending and deficits: CBO 
estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    Mandates: H.R. 4378 contains no intergovernmental or 
private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Megan Carroll; 
Mandates: Jon Sperl.
    Estimate approved by: H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                                  [all]