U.S. House lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday in support of nuclear projects by streamlining the approval process and provided financial incentives to development companies to help them overcome the regulatory hurdles.

The Atomic Energy Advancement Act, which received a 356-35 vote, would bolster the development and construction of new neclear reactors.

The overwhelming approval of the bill, which was backed by 166 Democrats, is an indication of how much the needle has shifted toward embracing nuclear power as a means of carbon-free power generation. It’s also similar to the Senate legislation approved earlier this year, according to reporting by the Washington Examiner.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said the reforms are badly needed and testified in favor of the bill, which included components of some financial provisions he authored.

“The Advanced Nuclear Reactor Prize Act would authorize the secretary of energy to make targeted awards to cover fees assessed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for first technologies that are licensed and made operational in five unique categories. Awards under the bill cannot exceed total amounts expended by the eligible entity excluding other federal support,” he said.

Curtis added in a release that, “The costs and red tape associated with our permitting process are proving to be duplicative and ineffective. We need innovation in the nuclear space to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy in our future and Congress must do more to ensure that can happen.”

The bill passed under suspension of the body’s rules.

Curtis is uniquely acquainted with the long process it takes to get an advanced nuclear project to fruition. His district includes municipal power producers that were part of the Carbon Free Power Project by NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

That project, which is the only advanced Small Modular Reactor technology to receive a design approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ultimately was canceled last year due to long regulatory delays that helped drive up costs for would be customers.

Will nuclear power power some Utah cities in the future?
Why it takes so long to get advanced nuclear reactors up and running
Utah just lost an important future energy source. Here’s why

The municipal power association had worked for well over a decade with NuScale Power to get the small nuclear power plant established at the Idaho National Laboratory east of Idaho Falls.

Why Utahns should care about mysteries unlocked at Idaho nuclear research facility

INL is the premier U.S. Department of Energy laboratory for nuclear research and three presidential administrations had dumped millions into the project for its development, only to encounter prohibitive costs.

Curtis, at the time, expressed his disappointment.

“I’m saddened to learn of this project’s cancellation,” he said. “Current and future nuclear will play a vital role in America’s energy mix. This can be a learning experience for other SMR projects, and Congress should take this opportunity to ensure the permitting process for energy projects is designed to encourage innovation.”

The expansion of nuclear energy in the United States would support the nation’s uranium industry, including in Utah — which includes mining and the only conventional uranium mill operation in the United States, the White Mesa Mill in San Juan County, Curtis said. Domestically, the United States produces about 5% of the uranium it uses. This is despite production of the concentrate increasing by nearly 10 times in 2023 compared to 2022 because of a spike in prices, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The provision by Curtis was part of a larger bill sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, who is chair of the House Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee.