NRC releases plan to speed nuclear reactor build-out

By Catherine Morehouse | 03/04/2024 04:13 PM EST

Lawmakers have been pushing the agency to be more proactive about advanced reactors.

Christopher Hanson.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Chris Hanson said he believes the rule strikes a balance between presenting a workable regulatory framework to industry while balancing safety. Francis Chung/POLITICO | Francis Chung/E&E News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday unveiled a long-awaited proposal aimed at speeding up licensing for advanced reactors critical to creating a zero-emissions grid.

The NRC’s “Part 53” rule would create a new category of licensing for the kind of smaller reactors the power industry has been trying to get off the ground for decades. If finalized, the rule could make the notoriously complex and lengthy licensing process easier for these new reactors and allow them to scale up more quickly.

The proposal “marks a major step forward for the agency and risk-informed regulation, a real evolution of our regulatory frameworks,” NRC Chair Chris Hanson told reporters Monday.


The Biden administration is counting on nuclear power to help meet its aggressive climate goals and signed onto a pledge at last year’s United Nations climate conference to help triple nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050.