Pro-Nuclear Senate Bill, The ADVANCE Act, Is Headed To Biden’s Desk

( — The US Senate last month overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at accelerating the deployment of clean nuclear energy in the United States by speeding up the permitting process and offering new incentives for the development of new high-tech nuclear reactor technology.

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile Advanced Nuclear Energy (ADVANCE) Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in an 88-2 vote on June 18 after passing the House in May as part of the Fire Grants and Safety Act, in a 393-13 vote. The bill now awaits President Biden’s signature.

Democrat Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont were the only two to vote against the ADVANCE Act.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) described the June 18 vote as a “major victory” for the climate and US “energy security.”

Carper said in a statement that the legislation would give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission both the tools and the workforce needed to efficiently review new nuclear technologies while maintaining its “critical safety mission.”

The committee’s ranking member, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), lauded the bipartisan effort of lawmakers in both chambers, who “worked together to recognize the importance of nuclear energy to America’s future.”

Under the legislation, the regulatory costs for seeking to license new nuclear energy technologies would be reduced while also creating a prize to incentivize those who successfully develop “next-generation reactor technologies.”

If signed into law, the ADVANCE Act could benefit companies like TerraPower, which, in early June, began construction on an advanced Natrium reactor on the site of an old coal plant in Wyoming.

The company experienced delays in construction due to regulatory hurdles in obtaining a key permit.

The nuclear energy industry has struggled in recent decades to expand in the United States, largely due to soaring costs and regulations, including complex permitting rules.

Not everyone is happy about efforts to expand US nuclear energy production.

Anti-nuclear groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists have warned against easing licensing requirements for high-tech reactors, arguing that simplifying permitting may put safety at risk.

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