EXCLUSIVE: Members Of Congress Push Defense Department To Embrace Nuclear Energy

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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A bipartisan group of representatives, led by Republican Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, is pushing the Department of Defense (DOD) to rapidly construct a new nuclear reactor to power military bases and operations.

The DOD announced in 2020 that it would seek to build a microreactor as part of a program called Project Pele. The Pentagon did not announce a timeline for construction, only saying the U.S. must compete with China, which constructed its own reactor in 2021. The 14 members are calling for the Pentagon to complete the reactor by 2025.

“America’s national security and energy security are on the line—since energy can start, define, and end a war,” the members wrote Thursday to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, in a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller. “As the largest user of energy within the U.S. Government and one of the largest energy users in the world, the DOD must be able to meet their ever-growing energy requirements.”

Read the letter here:

Project Pele Support Letter Final by Michael Ginsberg on Scribd

Other signatories include Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, along with Republicans Troy Nehls of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Zach Nunn and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Rich McCormick of Georgia, Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.

First developed by the U.S. Navy to power submarines, microreactors are characterized by their small size and need for limited maintenance. They are becoming more common in the private sector, since many companies view the reactors as a cost-effective way to lower carbon emissions. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Seek To Clear Roadblocks For Small Businesses Using Nuclear Tech)

Nuclear power accounts for roughly 10% of global electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency, and for 18% in the U.S. The letter-writers hope to eventually use microreactors to power military bases, vehicles and key weapons technologies.

Donalds has introduced a slate of nuclear-related legislation in the 118th Congress aimed at increasing American nuclear power use, and reducing dependence on non-allied countries who produce the necessary materials.

“Congress must recognize the importance of the U.S. military interest in this innovative technology,” Donalds said in a Wednesday floor speech.