Senate panel advances pronuclear measure

June 1, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on May 30 approved the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act in a bipartisan 16-3 vote.


Introduced March 30 by the senatorial trio of Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Tom Carper (D., Del.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), the ADVANCE Act has since accumulated an additional 14 cosponsors, including Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D. N.M.), Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), Pete Ricketts (R., Neb.), Jim Risch (R., Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (I., Ariz.), and Mark Warner (D., Va.).

Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.), and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) opposed the legislation.

Bill basics: According to its EPW Committee proponents, the ADVANCE Act would accomplish the following:

■ Facilitate American nuclear leadership by

  • empowering the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors; and
  • establishing a joint Commerce Department/Energy Department initiative to facilitate outreach to nations seeking to develop advanced nuclear energy programs.

■ Develop and deploy new nuclear technologies by

  • reducing regulatory costs for companies seeking to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies;
  • creating a prize to incentivize the successful deployment of next-generation nuclear reactor technologies; and
  • requiring the NRC to develop a pathway to enable the timely licensing of nuclear facilities at brownfield sites.

■ Preserve existing nuclear energy by

  • modernizing outdated rules that restrict international investment; and
  • extending a long-established indemnification policy necessary to enable the continued operation of today’s reactors and give certainty for capital investments in building new reactors.

■ Strengthen America’s nuclear fuel cycle and supply chain infrastructure by

  • directing the NRC to establish an initiative to enhance preparedness to qualify and license advanced nuclear fuels; and
  • identifying modern manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.

■ Authorize funds for environmental cleanup programs by sanctioning funding to assist in cleaning up legacy abandoned mining sites on tribal lands.

■ Improve NRC efficiency by

  • providing the NRC chair with the tools to hire and retain highly specialized staff and exceptionally well-qualified individuals who will successfully and safely review and approve advanced nuclear reactor licenses; and
  • requiring the agency to periodically review and assess performance metrics and milestone schedules to ensure licensing can be completed on an efficient schedule.

Words from the sponsor: “From both a national security and energy independence standpoint, America has everything to gain from being the world’s leader in nuclear energy, and today we took an important step forward in achieving that goal,” said Capito, EPW’s ranking member. “This legislation gives a major boost to a clean, reliable power generation source and provides the tools needed for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to facilitate the development and deployment of new technologies here in the United States. I’m proud of the work that went into the ADVANCE Act and that the EPW Committee continues to demonstrate we can successfully collaborate in addressing critical issues like nuclear energy in a bipartisan way.”

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