July 28, 2023

Senate Passes Bipartisan Nuclear Energy Bill from Whitehouse, Capito, Carper

ADVANCE Act would boost development and deployment of new nuclear technologies, incentivize expansion in America, retool and support the NRC, and help position the U.S. as the world’s leader in nuclear energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes legislation led by Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and a bipartisan group of their colleagues that reasserts America’s position as the undisputed international leader for nuclear energy technologies.

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023, which Capito led introduction of in March, and the EPW Committee approved by a vote of 16-3, passed as part of the NDAA today by a vote of 86-11.

“The time is right to make strategic investments in a new generation of nuclear energy technology that will lower emissions and head off threats to our national and energy security,” Senator Whitehouse said. “I’m pleased that our bipartisan bill to ensure the next generation of nuclear energy is safely regulated and developed in America has passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support.”

“With today’s passage of the bipartisan ADVANCE Act, we are one step closer to reestablishing America’s preeminence as the global leader in nuclear energy in the twenty-first century,” Ranking Member Capito said. “Not only does our legislation strengthen our national and energy security, it expands a clean, reliable power source that should remain a major part of our future energy mix. The ADVANCE Act achieves these shared goals by making the nuclear licensing process more affordable, predictable, and efficient, creating pathways to repurpose former industrial sites for nuclear reactors in the future, and providing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the resources needed to help fulfill its mission. I’m thankful for Chairman Carper, Senator Whitehouse, and all those who worked with us to craft commonsense policy, go through regular order in our committee, and see it approved today by the full Senate.”

“As our nation’s largest source of carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy is critical to meeting our climate goals and ensuring our energy independence,” Chairman Carper said. “The ADVANCE Act would help modernize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, providing the agency with the tools and highly-skilled workforce necessary to facilitate the deployment of clean, affordable nuclear energy. The legislation would do so in a way that supports job creation and strengthens our nation’s nuclear leadership globally. Today’s passage of the ADVANCE Act moves us one step closer to realizing the benefits of this bipartisan legislation, and I thank Ranking Member Capito, Senator Whitehouse, and our colleagues for their partnership in developing this boost to American clean energy.”

Cosponsors of Capito, Carper, and Whitehouse’s bill include John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

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.
  • 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.
    • The bill identifies 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) in the NDAA as passed by the Senate can be found here.

A section-by-section can be found here.

A handout on the legislation can be found here.

A letter of support from additional coalitions can be found here and more support from outside groups can be found here.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921