5 Republicans, 5 Democrats lead Senate effort to develop and deploy new nuclear technologies, facilitate American nuclear leadership

– U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, along with Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), led a bipartisan group of their colleagues in introducing the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023.

“America can and should be a leader when it comes to deploying nuclear energy technologies, and this bipartisan legislation puts us on a path to achieve that goal,” EPW Ranking Member Capito said. “This bill prioritizes the future of American energy security by establishing commonsense policies to help deploy nuclear energy, which is a clean and reliable generation source for our nation’s electric grid. It also directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to create a pathway for conventional energy source sites to be repurposed and used in the future. I’m proud to lead a strong, bipartisan group of senators in introducing the ADVANCE Act, which signals an important step toward strengthening America’s nuclear energy sector.”

Original cosponsors of Capito, Carper, and Whitehouse's bill include John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

“As our nation’s largest source of reliable, carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy is critical to meeting our climate goals and maintaining our energy security,” EPW Chairman Carper said. “The ADVANCE Act will help the United States remain a clean energy leader by providing the certainty needed to safely deploy the next generation of nuclear reactors and fuels. This bipartisan legislation will also ensure that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the tools and workforce to keep our current reactors safe and to efficiently review new nuclear technologies.”

“Investing in the next generation of carbon-free nuclear energy will lower emissions and head off threats to our national and energy security,” Senator Whitehouse said. “I’m glad to help lead this bipartisan effort to ensure the next generation of nuclear technology can be safely regulated, licensed, and developed here at home, boosting America’s longstanding global leadership on nuclear energy.”

“Russia and China are using nuclear energy as a weapon to advance their national interests and threaten the world. The free world is desperate for an alternative. The United States must re-establish its historic global leadership in nuclear energy. The ADVANCE Act represents an important step forward. It will improve our energy security and grow the economy. Our bill would give the world an American-made nuclear option,” Senator Barrasso said.

“Advanced nuclear energy has a critical role to play as we race against the clock to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change,” Senator Booker said. “The ADVANCE Act will facilitate the development of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors, including fusion reactors, and also provides significant funding to clean up legacy pollution from abandoned mines located on Tribal lands.”

“Providing energy security at home and abroad should be a broadly bipartisan priority, and the best way to do so is to continue our investment in nuclear energy,” Senator Crapo said. “The ADVANCE Act ensures nuclear energy becomes a larger part of our nation’s diverse energy portfolio.  With the world-leading Idaho National Laboratory in our backyard, Idaho is responsible for facilitating and promoting international nuclear competitiveness through research, innovation and workforce development.”

“Boosting the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy technologies will increase American energy independence while also advancing our clean energy goals," Senator Kelly said.

“Advanced nuclear energy presents boundless potential, and the ADVANCE Act will make the kind of clean and reliable nuclear power being developed at the Idaho National Lab available to the nation. With this bill, we will strengthen America’s existing nuclear fleet and improve our ability to develop new nuclear technologies and deploy them faster,” Senator Risch said.

The ADVANCE Act would:

  • Facilitate American Nuclear Leadership by:

  • Empowering the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors.
  • Establishing a joint Commerce Department and Energy Department initiative to facilitate outreach to nations that are 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Identifying modern manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.

  • Authorize funds for Environmental Cleanup Programs by:

  • Authorizing funding to assist in cleaning up legacy abandoned mining sites on Tribal lands.

  • Improve Commission Efficiency by:

  • Providing the NRC Chair the tools to hire and retain highly-specialized staff and exceptionally well-qualified individuals to successfully and safely review and approve advanced nuclear reactor licenses. This is essential with the NRC staff under attrition pressure due to an aging workforce.
  • Requiring the NRC to periodically review and assess performance metrics and milestone schedules to ensure licensing can be completed on an efficient schedule.

Full text of the ADVANCE Act (S.1111) can be found here.

A one-pager can be found here.

A handout on the legislation can be found here.

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