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Nuclear Gets Bicameral Push

The wave of bipartisan nuclear measures in Congress this year could produce “a mammoth buildout of reactors and fuel supplies over the next decade”—if the right legislative vehicles are available to get them passed, according to E&E Daily (subscription).

What’s going on: “Industry leaders and their allies say Congress still needs to act on critical areas hampering nuclear buildout, including limiting complex environmental regulations and securing a domestic fuel supply for future reactors. … Nuclear energy … is now a common-ground energy source between traditional Republican boosters and climate-minded Democrats.”

ADVANCE Act and a blueprint: One of these bills, the Senate’s Accelerating Deployment of Versatile Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act, which cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May, would reduce licensing fees for new nuclear reactors and give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission more funding to hire staff.

  • Though the ADVANCE Act has broad bipartisan support, some say it will “need to hitch a ride on a larger” measure—such as an in-development bill focused on China—to become law.
  • Meanwhile, in the House, the Blueprint for Nuclear Innovation and Competitiveness “lays out policy goals like revamping licensing pathways for the next generation and expedited environmental reviews of nuclear reactors as well as ambitions to reduce emergency planning zones surrounding those advanced reactors.”

Uranium: The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act—which would phase down and eventually ban the import of Russian enriched uranium to the U.S.—is gaining steam in the House.

  • The U.S. gets about 20% of its enriched uranium from Russia. 

The NDAA route: “Despite efforts to pass bills on their own or attach provisions to novel vehicles, the classic approach of riding legislation on the National Defense Authorization Act may end up as the most likely way nuclear bills get passed this Congress.”

  • Authors of the House iteration of the NDAA, on the House floor this week, called nuclear microreactors “critical to the future fight.”  ​​​​​​​
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