U.S. Senate passes bill to support advanced nuclear energy deployment


June 20, 2024

The U.S. Senate passed a bill to accelerate the deployment of nuclear energy capacity, including by speeding permitting and creating new incentives for advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

Expanding nuclear power has broad bipartisan support, with Democrats seeing it as critical to decarbonizing the power sector to fight climate change and Republicans viewing it as a way to ensure reliable electricity supply and create jobs.

A version of the bill had already passed in the House of Representatives and it will now go to President Joe Biden for a signature to become law. It passed the Senate 88-2 votes.

“In a major victory for our climate and American energy security, the U.S. Senate has passed the ADVANCE Act with overwhelming, bipartisan support,” said Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat, who is Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“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,” said Republican Shelley Moore Capito, a ranking member of the committee.

Among other things, the bill would cut regulatory costs for companies seeking to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies, would create a prize for the successful deployment of next-generation reactors, and would speed licensing for nuclear facilities at certain sites.

The bill could benefit companies like Bill Gates-backed TerraPower, which is trying to build a $4 billion Natrium reactor in Wyoming on the site of an old coal plant but is struggling to secure a key permit.

Non-proliferation groups including the Union of Concerned Scientists have warned against measures that ease licensing for high-tech nuclear reactors, including those using advanced fuels like high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), arguing that safety should remain the priority.

The U.S. nuclear industry has struggled to expand in recent decades due to soaring costs and complex permitting requirements, and as advanced nuclear technologies prove difficult to fund and develop.

Photo: Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant, the site of a leak in November which was not made public for four months, as well as a newly reported recurring leak, is seen in Monticello, Minnesota, U.S. March 27, 2023. REUTERS/Adam Bettcher/File Photo

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Sonali Paul)


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