Bipartisan legislation to support development and deployment of new nuclear technologies overwhelmingly passes Senate. Ranking Member Capito floor remarks here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate voted to pass bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that will provide a major boost to the future of nuclear energy in America.

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act, which the senators introduced in March 2023, passed as part of the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S.870) by a vote of 88-2, and will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“Today, we sent the ADVANCE Act to the president’s desk because Congress worked together to recognize the importance of nuclear energy to America’s future and got the job done,” Ranking Member Capito said. “This bipartisan piece of legislation will encourage more innovation and investment in nuclear technologies right here on our shores. It also directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to more efficiently carry out its important regulatory mission and helps redevelop conventional energy sites for future nuclear energy projects. I’m proud the work we put into this legislation over many years is coming to fruition, and excited to mark a significant achievement for clean, reliable nuclear power.”

“In a major victory for our climate and American energy security, the U.S. Senate has passed the ADVANCE Act with overwhelming, bipartisan support,” Chairman Carper said. “For years, I have worked with Senators Capito and Whitehouse on this legislation to accelerate the deployment of our nation’s largest source of carbon-free electricity: nuclear energy. The ADVANCE Act will provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with the tools and workforce it needs to review new nuclear technologies efficiently, while maintaining the NRC’s critical safety mission and creating thousands of jobs. With the President’s signature, the ADVANCE Act will become the law of the land and lay the foundation for the safe and successful deployment of the next generation of advanced reactors in the coming decades.”

“This is another successful bipartisan effort to boost the deployment of zero-emission nuclear power and shore up America’s longstanding global leadership in nuclear energy. The ADVANCE Act will strengthen our nuclear workforce, assist in the deployment of new advanced reactors by lowering barriers in the regulatory process, and facilitate the reuse of Brownfield sites to aid in the coal-to-nuclear transition. Advancing the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors is a win for the planet, and passage of this bill marks the next step in bringing new, safe reactors online,” Senator Whitehouse said.

The ADVANCE Act will:

  • Facilitate American Nuclear Energy Leadership by:
    • Empowering the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors.
    • Directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to improve its process for approving the export of American technology to international markets, while maintaining strong standards for nuclear non-proliferation.
  • Support Development and Deployment of New Nuclear Energy 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 reactor technologies.
    • Requiring the NRC to develop a pathway to enable the timely licensing of microreactors and nuclear facilities at brownfield and retired fossil-fuel energy generation sites.
    • Directing the NRC to establish an accelerated licensing review process to site and construct reactors at existing nuclear sites.
  • Preserve Existing Nuclear Energy by:
    • Modernizing outdated rules that restrict international investment.
  • Strengthen America’s Nuclear Energy Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain Infrastructure by:
    • Directing the NRC to enhance its ability to qualify and license accident-tolerant fuels and advanced nuclear fuels that can increase safety and economic competitiveness for existing reactors and the next generation of advanced reactors.
    • Tasking the NRC to evaluate advanced manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.
  • Improve Commission Resources and Efficiency by:
    • Providing flexibility for the NRC to better manage and invest its resources in activities that support NRC’s modernization efforts and address staffing issues.
    • Providing the NRC Chair the tools to hire and retain exceptionally well-qualified individuals to successfully and safely review and process applications for advanced nuclear reactor licenses.
    • Requiring the NRC to update its Mission Statement to reflect modern beneficial use of nuclear material and energy.
    • Mandating the NRC to establish a licensing structure to support an efficient, timely, and predictable regulatory review.
    • Charging the NRC to streamline the NEPA environmental review process.

Full text of the ADVANCE Act within S.870 can be found here on page 4.

Ranking Member Capito’s floor remarks ahead of the vote can be found here.

Ranking Member Capito’s remarks at a press conference can be found here.


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