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ADVANCE Act would boost development and deployment of new nuclear technologies and facilitate American nuclear leadership, now heads to the full Senate with widespread bipartisan support

WASHINGTON-Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed legislation, introduced by U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho), Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Chairman Tom Carper (D-Delaware) and a bipartisan group of their colleagues, that would help position the United States as the undisputed international leader for nuclear energy technologies.

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023, which Crapo and Risch introduced in March, passed out of the EPW Committee by a vote of 16-3.

“With the ADVANCE Act’s passage out of committeee, we are one step closer to spurring the development and deployment of advanced nuclear technologies,” Risch said.  “Idaho’s own INL has long been a leader in nuclear research, and with this bill, we can further unlock nuclear’s vast clean energy potential.”

“Idaho is home to the world-leading Idaho National Laboratory, a facility responsible for promoting international nuclear competitiveness through research, innovation and workforce development,” Crapo said. “The ADVANCE Act shows bipartisan support for continuing our investment in nuclear energy—strengthening national security, diversifying our energy portfolio and growing the economy.”

The ADVANCE Act will:

Facilitate American Nuclear Leadership

  • The bill empowers the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors.
  • The bill establishes 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

  • The bill reduces regulatory costs for companies seeking to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies.
  • The bill creates a prize to incentivize the successful deployment of next-generation nuclear reactor technologies.
  • The bill requires the NRC to develop a pathway to enable the timely licensing of nuclear facilities at brownfield sites.

Preserve Existing Nuclear Energy

  • The bill modernizes outdated rules that restrict international investment.
  • The bill extends 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

  • The bill directs 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

  • The bill authorizes funding to assist in cleaning up legacy abandoned mining sites on Tribal lands.

Improve Commission Efficiency

  • The bill provides flexibility for the NRC to budget and manage organizational support activities toensure the NRC is prepared to address NRC staff issues associated with an aging workforce.
  • The bill provides the NRC Chair the tools to hire and retain highly-specialized staff andexceptionally well-qualified individuals to successfully and safely review and approve advancednuclear reactor licenses.
  • The bill requires the NRC to periodically review and assess performance metrics and milestone schedules to ensure licensing can be completed on an efficient schedule.

Additional co-sponsors of the ADVANCE Act include Senators Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Mark Kelly (D-Arizona).

On April 23, 2020, the Department of Energy released its report titled, “Restoring America’s Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage.”  The report found the decline of our industrial nuclear supply capabilities threatens our national interest and national security.  The report recommends actions that will set the United States back on the right track.  The ADVANCE Act implements the report’s key recommendations. 

The ADVANCE Act builds on previous Crapo, Risch legislation that furthered nuclear innovation: S. 97, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA); and S. 512, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Modernization Act (NEIMA).   These laws help ensure the research conducted at the Idaho National Laboratory continues to contribute to our diverse domestic energy resources and keeps our nation at the forefront of nuclear innovation. 

Full text of the ADVANCE Act (S.1111) as passed out of committee 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.

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