House Advances Bill to Senate, Asking Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Weigh Benefits as Well as Costs of Nuclear Power

(p. A19) The House this week overwhelmingly passed legislation meant to speed up the development of a new generation of nuclear power plants, the latest sign that a once-contentious source of energy is now attracting broad political support in Washington.

The 365-to-36 vote on Wednesday [Feb. 28, 2024] reflected the bipartisan nature of the bill, known as the Atomic Energy Advancement Act. It received backing from Democrats who support nuclear power because it does not emit greenhouse gases and can generate electricity 24 hours a day to supplement solar and wind power. It also received support from Republicans who have downplayed the risks of climate change but who say that nuclear power could bolster the nation’s economy and energy security.

. . .

The bill would direct the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the nation’s nuclear power plants, to streamline its processes for approving new reactor designs. The legislation, which is backed by the nuclear industry, would also increase hiring at the commission, reduce fees for applicants, establish financial prizes for novel types of reactors and encourage the development of nuclear power at the sites of retiring coal plants.

. . .

Proponents of this change say it would make the N.R.C. more closely resemble other federal safety agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, which weighs both the risks and benefits of new drugs. In the past, critics say, the N.R.C. has focused too heavily on the risks.

For the full story, see:

Brad Plumer. “Once Pariah, Nuclear Power Finds Broad Political Support.” The New York Times (Saturday, March 2, 2024): A19.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “U.S. Seeks to Boost Nuclear Power After Decades of Inertia.” The online version says that the print version appeared on p. A20. The Replica version said that the print version appeared on p. A19.)

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