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Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A top Trump administration official called on Bill Gates to work with the Energy Department on building an advanced nuclear reactor in America after the billionaire shelved plans to do so in China.

Driving the news: Gates said late last year that his nuclear-energy company, TerraPower, won’t be building a pilot project in China due to restrictions the Energy Department recently placed on technology deals with China. In comments to reporters Monday on another initiative, Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said of Gates: “We hope we can work with them and bring them back.”

The details: The new Energy Department restrictions are aimed at preventing other nations from using nuclear technologies for military purposes. Brouillette said the department has had “several conversations” with Gates on the matter and said he was hopeful the U.S. government could streamline the permitting process to make it more likely Gates would pursue building the reactor in America.

  • “That was a concern of theirs and a reason they went to a different country,” Brouillette said.
  • TerraPower had pursued plans to build a pilot reactor in China because that country has two things America doesn’t — growing electricity demand and a long-term strategic energy plan — a top TerraPower executive told me in late 2017.

For the record: A request for comment to Gates’ office wasn’t immediately returned.

The big picture: Advanced nuclear technologies, which are smaller and deemed safer than existing kinds, are still in the very early stages. Current American nuclear plants, which are far larger, are shutting down early due to economic reasons.

In other news: The Energy Department announced today it was pursuing a $115 million project at a nuclear facility in Ohio to develop a type of nuclear fuel (uranium) that can be used in certain advanced reactor designs.

  • Brouillette said it’s important the U.S. develop the capability to produce this fuel so American nuclear technologies aren’t dependent upon sources from other nations, adding that Russia has the ability to produce this type of uranium.
  • America currently imports most of its uranium used in today’s nuclear-plant technologies, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.

Go deeper: Bill Gates shelves nuclear reactor in China, citing U.S. policy

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Gates has had conversations with Energy Department officials, not Brouillette specifically.

Go deeper

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.