House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman plans to introduce legislation that would streamline the license review process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Nuclear-at-NightHouse Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said that he plans to introduce legislation that would streamline the license review process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Why is it that Japan and France take four to five years and it takes us 10 to 12 years to go from start to finish on a nuclear reactor?” Upton said in a wide-ranging interview with The Hill Monday.

Asked if he is planning to introduce legislation to streamline the review process at the commission, Upton said, “You bet, yup. We’re going to be asking the tough questions.”

Republicans are expected to focus this year on expanding the U.S. nuclear energy industry. It’s been decades since a new nuclear plant has come online in the United States.

President Obama has named nuclear power as one of a slew of low-carbon energy sources that can help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. But opponents point to the huge costs associated with nuclear power.

Upton sent a letter to the NRC late last month criticizing the nuclear reactor license renewal process. Two nuclear power plants – the Pilgrim Power Plant in Massachusetts and the Vermont Yankee Power Plant in Vermont – submitted applications to renew their reactor licenses more than five years ago, Upton noted. Though the licenses expire next year, the NRC has not yet completed its review of the applications.

“With a dozen outstanding renewal applications, the alarming rate of delay has put thousands of good-paying jobs in jeopardy and has threatened to disrupt a reliable source of clean, affordable energy for surrounding communities and businesses,” Upton said.

The NRC has said it should take between 22 and 30 months to review an application for a license renewal.

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Source: Andrew Restuccia | The Hill