Legislation will ‘spur deployment of new, secure and dependable’ reactor technologies
The US Senate environment and public works committee has approved legislation aimed at speeding up the implementation of advanced nuclear reactors and promoting the US’s leadership in research and development in the next generation of nuclear energy.
The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (Advance) Act was passed in a bipartisan vote 16 to 3. It still faces a number of legislative steps before becoming law.
The promise of inexpensive, carbon-free nuclear energy is central to president Joe Biden’s pledge to reach 100% clean electricity by 2035.
The federal government’s plans include the use of advanced reactors, which advocates claim offer improvements over current plant designs, promising greater efficiency and reduced operational costs.
While the US has yet to build such a plant, the legislation passed by the Senate committee aims to increase the federal government’s role in promoting conditions needed for the emergence of new nuclear technology under US leadership.
If enacted, the legislation would direct the US regulator, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to review its licensing processes for nuclear power plants. The goal is to determine whether these guidelines can be modified to facilitate swift approval of advanced nuclear reactors.
Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican who proposed the legislation, said the Advance Act was crucial for reducing regulatory obstacles and asserting US leadership in nuclear energy.
Capito said: “The bipartisan Advance Act will spur the deployment of new, secure and dependable nuclear technologies. It is within America’s capability and responsibility to lead in nuclear energy.”
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The provisions in the Advance Act are focused on key areas related to the near-term development of the nuclear energy industry in the US, including developing new nuclear technologies, preserving existing nuclear-energy producing facilities, strengthening the country’s nuclear fuel cycle and supply chain infrastructure and introducing reforms to the NRC.
“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,” Capito said.
Committee member John Barrasso, a Republican who represents Wyoming, said the US must re-establish its historic global leadership in nuclear energy.
“Right now Russia and China are using nuclear energy to promote their interests and threaten the world. The free world is desperate for an alternative,” he said.
“The Advance Act improves our energy security and grows the economy. It gives the world an American-made nuclear option.”