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Bipartisan glimpse in nuclear energy bill passage

Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Florida
Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Homestead, Florida Photo: RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

The House passed bipartisan legislation Thursday supporting advanced nuclear-energy technologies, setting it up for a presidential signature.

Why it matters: It’s a rare glimpse of bipartisanship on the usually acrimonious issue of energy in a Congress mostly focused on the midterm elections. It is also a step toward helping advanced nuclear-energy technologies, which are still mostly in the demonstration phase.

One level deeper: The bill doesn’t include any huge changes, but taken collectively the requirements could spur more attention and money. Among the provisions:

  • Cost-share grant program at the Energy Department for applicants seeking federal licenses for advanced reactors.
  • Formally structured collaboration among national labs, private companies and others.

The big picture: With America’s existing nuclear plants struggling to compete with cheap natural gas and subsidized renewable energy, advanced reactors have the potential to provide the next wave of carbon-free electricity in big quantities as the world tackles climate change.

What’s next: The bill has already passed the Senate, so it now goes to President Trump’s desk to be officially signed into law.

Go deeper: Read the bill.