Capito’s bipartisan bill bolsters America’s nuclear leadership

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) recently led a bipartisan bill to facilitate American nuclear leadership, develop and deploy new nuclear technologies, preserve existing nuclear energy, and strengthen the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle and supply chain infrastructure.

“America can and should be a leader when it comes to deploying nuclear energy technologies, and this bipartisan legislation puts us on a path to achieve that goal,” said Sen. Capito, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This bill prioritizes the future of American energy security.” 

Specifically, the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act of 2023, S. 1111, would empower the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to lead in international forums to develop regulations for advanced nuclear reactors and establish a joint U.S. Commerce Department and U.S. Energy Department initiative to facilitate outreach to nations that are seeking to develop advanced nuclear energy programs, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Capito’s office.

The bill also would reduce regulatory costs for companies seeking to license advanced nuclear reactor technologies, create a prize to incentivize the successful deployment of next-generation nuclear reactor technologies, and require the NRC to develop a pathway to enable the timely licensing of nuclear facilities at brownfield sites, the summary says.

Establishing such “common-sense policies” would help deploy nuclear energy, which is a clean and reliable generation source for America’s electric grid, according to Sen. Capito, who added that the bill “also directs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to create a pathway for conventional energy source sites to be repurposed and used in the future.” 

Among the bipartisan contingent of nine lawmakers who joined Sen. Capito in introducing the bill was lead original cosponsor U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“I’m proud to lead a strong, bipartisan group of senators in introducing the ADVANCE Act, which signals an important step toward strengthening America’s nuclear energy sector,” said Sen. Capito.

Among numerous other provisions, S. 1111 also would modernize outdated rules that restrict international investment, direct the NRC to establish an initiative to enhance preparedness to qualify and license advanced nuclear fuels, and authorize funding to assist in cleaning up legacy abandoned mining sites on tribal lands, according to the bill summary.

“Investing in the next generation of carbon-free nuclear energy will lower emissions and head off threats to our national and energy security,” Sen. Whitehouse said. “I’m glad to help lead this bipartisan effort to ensure the next generation of nuclear technology can be safely regulated, licensed, and developed here at home, boosting America’s longstanding global leadership on nuclear energy.”