Advance Act Passed by US Senate 88-2
Advance Act Passed by US Senate 88-2

The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act passed the US Senate by a vote of 88-2 on Tuesday June 18, 2024, and is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

This important clean energy legislation was introduced in March 2023, and was quickly moved through the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support.  That support only continued in the Senate, and now the legislation is set to help secure nuclear energy’s role in supporting America’s growing clean energy needs.

The ADVANCE Act was authored by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, EPW Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“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,” Ranking Member Capito said. “This bipartisan piece of legislation will encourage more innovation and investment in nuclear technologies right here on our shores. It also directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to more efficiently carry out its important regulatory mission and helps redevelop conventional energy sites for future nuclear energy projects. I’m proud the work we put into this legislation over many years is coming to fruition, and excited to mark a significant achievement for clean, reliable nuclear power.”

Senator Capito also noted in an earlier post on social media that “If we’re going to meet rising energy demands driven by advances, such as AI and data centers, while also lessening the strains on our electric grid, we MUST help expand nuclear energy. That’s exactly what my #ADVANCEAct will do.”

AI and data centers are two growing areas which several companies are seeking opportunities in West Virginia for.  This legislation can help foster such opportunities for community and job growth in the Mountain State.

A press release from Senator Capito’s office lays out what the ADVANCE Act will accomplish as follows:

The ADVANCE Act will:

Facilitate American Nuclear Energy Leadership by:

  • Empowering the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors.
  • Directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to improve its process for approving the export of American technology to international markets, while maintaining strong standards for nuclear non-proliferation.

Support Development and Deployment of New Nuclear Energy 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 reactor technologies.
  • Requiring the NRC to develop a pathway to enable the timely licensing of microreactors and nuclear facilities at brownfield and retired fossil-fuel energy generation sites.
  • Directing the NRC to establish an accelerated licensing review process to site and construct reactors at existing nuclear sites.

Preserve Existing Nuclear Energy by:

  • Modernizing outdated rules that restrict international investment.

Strengthen America’s Nuclear Energy Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain Infrastructure by:

  • Directing the NRC to enhance its ability to qualify and license accident-tolerant fuels and advanced nuclear fuels that can increase safety and economic competitiveness for existing reactors and the next generation of advanced reactors.
  • Tasking the NRC to evaluate advanced manufacturing techniques to build nuclear reactors better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.

Improve Commission Resources and Efficiency by:

  • Providing flexibility for the NRC to better manage and invest its resources in activities that support NRC’s modernization efforts and address staffing issues.
  • Providing the NRC Chair the tools to hire and retain exceptionally well-qualified individuals to successfully and safely review and process applications for advanced nuclear reactor licenses. Requiring the NRC to update its Mission Statement to reflect modern beneficial use of nuclear material and energy.
  • Mandating the NRC to establish a licensing structure to support an efficient, timely, and predictable regulatory review.
  • Charging the NRC to streamline the NEPA environmental review process.

Full text of the ADVANCE Act within S.870 can be found here on page 4.

Ranking Member Capito’s floor remarks ahead of the vote can be found here.

Ranking Member Capito’s remarks at an earlier press conference can be found here.