The Morning After: Congress’ clean energy bill passes with major focus on nuclear

The Senate has passed a sweeping bill that includes a lot of incentives for nuclear energy. The Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act passed in a vote, 88 to 2. The earlier version of the bill also garnered bipartisan support in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

Those incentives will include financial awards for the first companies to upcycle recycled nuclear waste. The bill will change the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, streamlining the application and regulatory process for new reactors. Following the bill's passage, US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works chairman Tom Carper said in a statement: "The ADVANCE Act will provide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with the tools and workforce it needs to review new nuclear technologies efficiently while maintaining the NRC's critical safety mission and creating thousands of jobs."

Senators Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey were the two opposing votes, with the latter arguing that the ADVANCE Act turns the NRC into a facilitator rather than a regulator. "This bill puts promotion over protection, and corporate profits over community clean-up," Markey stated.

Environmental groups have reacted strongly both for and against the bill. Dr. Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said in a statement: “Make no mistake: This is not about making the reactor licensing process more efficient, but about weakening safety and security oversight across the board, a longstanding industry goal.”

— Mat Smith

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A super slim travel companion for almost any gadget.

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