As the Intermountain Energy Summit in Idaho Falls wrapped up Wednesday, state and national officials continued discussions for a national energy policy.
"One of the failures of our Congress and one of the failures we've seen in our country is that we haven't put one (a national energy policy) together. We haven't got one yet, but we are starting to get there," said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
Lawmakers said they are looking for a policy that will increase energy efficiency and reduce oil imports, reduce air pollution and emissions and increase the overall security of the national grid.
"Whatever the national energy policy is and whatever the regional role in that is, there's no doubt that nuclear power will be a key part of it," said Crapo. "There are so many different opportunities for us to be a part of a broad, diversified energy policy for our country that it is critical that we get our national leadership here as we engage in that discussion."
Crapo said Idaho was pleased to have U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz speak at the summit. Crapo and Moniz both expressed the Idaho National Laboratory’s role in drafting a new policy. As the lab serves as the national leader in nuclear energy, Moniz said it is at the root of discussions.
“When I compare 15 years ago at the INL to today, I've seen a tremendous transformation in terms of the research analysis and testing infrastructure for the nuclear industry,” said Moniz.
Moniz said although the INL has made major advancements in other energy aspects, as well as waste cleanup initiatives, innovative nuclear technology would be the key to moving policy discussions forward. He said modern infrastructure, like Nuscale’s small modular reactors, are great examples for efficiency and possible cost reductions in the industry.
"With small nuclear reactors, the issue is going to be will the opportunity for quality insurance in a manufacturing environment bring the cost down? That's what we have to find out, and of course build them," said Moniz.
The secretary of energy also made a major announcement concerning energy research: $67 million will be awarded to university programs and infrastructure use throughout the country. Of those awards, $3.7 million will be given to the INL, Idaho State University and Boise State University.