[ RadSafe ] News: Advanced fuel cycle technology and other energy issues before Congress

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 30 15:44:41 CDT 2006

>From another list server.

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science
Policy News Number 107: August 30, 2006

Science Committee Sends Energy Research Bill to House

The House Science Committee has sent legislation to
the full House that would authorize elements of
President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative.  H.R.
5656, the Energy Research, Development, Demonstration
and Commercial Application Act of 2006, now awaits
consideration by the full House.

This legislation was introduced by Energy Subcommittee
Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL), who has long taken an
active interest in the research programs of the
Department of Energy.  The bill was passed by the
Science Committee earlier this summer after a mark up
session lasting less than 90 minutes.  The legislation
was based on ten hearings held over the last two
years, and followed hours of bipartisan staff work
that was lauded by committee leadership on both sides.
 As Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) explained in his
opening remarks, “this Committee is a model of what we
should be doing.”

In discussing her bill, Biggert explained that the
Energy Policy Act of 2005 “was just the first step,
and nobody should expect our nation’s energy problems
to disappear overnight.”  The legislation is
wide-ranging, and would authorize Department of Energy
research, development, demonstration and commercial
application programs that include biofuels, hydrogen
storage in vehicles, solar power, wind power, clean
coal, and advanced nuclear fuel cycle R&D.  The
legislation would also send back to the National
Academy of Sciences for further study its
recommendation for an ARPA-Energy agency that was
contained in its report, “Rising Above the Gathering

The bill’s language on an advanced fuel cycle
technologies research, development, and demonstration
plan is notable.  It gives this research, a key
component of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, in
Boehlert’s words, “an amber light.”  The committee
report accompanying the bill explains that the bill
“Requires the [Energy] Secretary to develop a
comprehensive modeling and simulation capability to
analyze advanced nuclear fuel cycle systems [note the
plural noun], to use this capability to analyze
possible advanced nuclear fuel cycle systems, and to
use this analysis to develop a plan for advanced
nuclear power technology RD&D activities.”  But the
Science Committee did not give this a green light,
since as the report states, the bill “Prohibits the
Secretary from moving forward on some large-scale
advanced nuclear fuel cycle technology demonstration
projects until the advanced nuclear power technology
RD&D plan is reviewed by the National Academy of
Sciences (NAS), revised by the Secretary in light of
the NAS findings and recommendations, and delivered to
Congress.”  The report would be due no later than June
30, 2008.   The annual limit for any such
demonstration processing facility is 750 kilograms of
spent fuel.

Boehlert predicted that this portion of the bill will
probably move by itself on the House floor.  The
committee’s report provides quite extensive language
on  the Members’ approach, which will be provided in
FYI #108.

Regarding advanced hydrogen storage technologies, this
bill requires the Energy Secretary to “design the
program . . . to develop practical hydrogen storage
technologies that would enable a hydrogen-fueled
light-duty motor vehicle to travel 300 miles before

The only area of disagreement during the Science
Committee’s markup of this bill was over its response
to the “Gathering Storm” report recommendation that an
Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy
(ARPA-E) be established at the Department of Energy. 
Ranking Democratic Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) 
introduced legislation authorizing this agency, and
one of the Senate PACE bills would do likewise. 
Boehlert had a series of questions about the proposed
agency that had been raised in a hearing last March
(see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/049.html.)   There
were about fifteen minutes of good-natured discussion
among committee members before a voice vote defeated
Gordon’s amendment to authorize the agency. Instead,
as the report explains, the bill calls for the Energy
Secretary to enter into an agreement with the National
Academies “to conduct a detailed study of, and make
further recommendations on” the ARPA-E recommendation.
 The study is required within  twelve
months of the bill’s enactment.    FYI #109 will have
Boehlert’s prepared statement opposing Gordon’s
amendment, and Gordon’s additional views from the
committee report outlining his support for the agency.

This bill now awaits action on the House floor, where
the congressional calendar is a major constraint. 
Congress will be in Washington for roughly a month
after it gets back next week before it recesses for
the November election.  It will then come back in a
lame duck session in which the major push will be to
enact the FY 2007 appropriations bills for that fiscal
year, which will then be over a month old.  If H.R.
5656 is passed it will then have to go to conference
with the Senate bill, S. 2197 (which has 66
cosponsors) that has been awaiting floor consideration
since March.  Time is of the essence.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
The American Institute of Physics
fyi at aip.org    http://www.aip.org/gov
(301) 209-3095

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower  

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at yahoo.com

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

More information about the RadSafe mailing list