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Press Release


April 22, 2016

Pillsbury partner Jeffrey S. Merrifield testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety on April 21, 2016. The purpose of the hearing was for the Committee to get experts’ opinions on its recently introduced bill S.2795 — “the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act” — and to gain a better understanding of advanced reactors and the issues impeding the technology’s development as a commercial energy source.

Speaking on behalf of the Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC) for which he currently serves as Chair of the Advanced Reactor Working Group, Merrifield began by offering praise for the bill. In particular, he commended the inclusion of caps on the amount of fees placed on individual licensees and the bill’s general support for Advanced Reactor technologies.

He did suggest some improvements, however, such as the continued right-sizing of the NRC. He also called for the NRC to engage in early and enhanced dialog with Advanced Reactor developers and emphasized the need for specific language in the bill requiring the provision of a pre-licensing design review.

“We believe it is time to make appropriate reforms to the NRC overhead and fee process as well as modernize the Agency’s licensing program to spur innovation and enable Advanced Reactor technologies to achieve their full promise,” Merrifield concluded. “We believe that S. 2795 makes significant progress toward achieving that goal and we are committed to working with the Committee towards its prompt and successful passage.”

To watch the full hearing, click here.

Merrifield is a partner in Pillsbury’s Energy practice and is based in Washington, DC. He focuses his practice on providing nuclear energy providers with guidance on management, market analysis, policy, waste disposal, safety and regulatory, and public and government engagement strategies. Prior to joining the firm, he served two terms as a commissioner on the five-member NRC (1998-2007), which sets all policies and rules that govern the safe and secure use of nuclear materials at all U.S. nuclear power plants.

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