Senate Confirms Rita Baranwal to Serve as Head of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy
On Thursday this week the Senate voted 86-5 to confirm President Trump’s nominee, Rita Baranwal, to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. Ms. Baranwal will serve as assistant secretary for nuclear energy as well. Previously, she served as as head of the DOE’s Gateway For Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program, which provides support for advanced nuclear energy designs. The five democrats who voted against Ms. Baranwal were Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Ed Markey (Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and Jacky Rosen (Nev.). The two senators from Nevada voted against her due to the Trump administration’s support for storing fuel from commercial nuclear power plants at Yucca Mountain, which is located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Source: Bloomberg Law
US House of Representatives Introduce Nuclear Energy Leadership Act
The week the US House of Representatives introduced a companion bill to the Senate’s nuclear energy leadership legislation. Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) co-sponsored the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, along with Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who chairs the Energy Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. The bill’s introduction in the House is a step forward on NELA and Ryan Fitzpatrick, deputy director of the Clean Energy Program at Third Way stated that “Getting that conversation moving is a good thing for a timely process towards an actual passage.” Included in the legislation are provisions that would require the Energy Department to create a national strategy for nuclear energy, demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor concepts, and make an initial supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel available, which is necessary for some of the new reactor designs. Rep. Luria confirmed that the bill will likely be referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
Source: Morning Consult
Earthquake Strikes Northwestern Japan, No Damage to Nuclear Reactors
A powerful earthquake struck northwestern Japan earlier this week, prompting officials to issue a warning for a possible tsunami up to 3.3 feet high along parts of the coast. The earthquake caused some areas to lose electrical power and some bullet train services were suspended but no injuries or damage from the magnitude 6.8 quake were reported. Additionally, only a minor swelling of the sea was observed in several cities about a half hour following the earthquake. According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the earthquake was located off the western coast of Yamagata, around 30 miles southwest of the city of Sakata. All seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata were offline with no damage reported and the two other nuclear power plants in the affected region were also intact, according to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.
Source: The Los Angeles Times