I'm not sure why you think US nuclear industry has stopped growing. Reactor 104 was finished in 2007, reactor 105 should be done next year, and 5? more reactors will be finished in the next 5 or so years. Regulations make nuclear look more attractive—after TMI, incredibly expensive regulations came into being, and as a result, nuclear capacity factor close to doubled, and nuclear became profitable.
The single most important reason why nuclear power is not growing faster is because there is no cost on greenhouse gases—this idea is highlighted in 100% of policy analysis. Until we begin taking climate change seriously, fossil fuels look more attractive, if only because they are faster builds with lower capital costs.
If I may answer my own question. Nuclear energy growth needs to grow much faster than the current rate to make a significant contribution to preventing climate change and significantly improve the quality of the air we breath. When and if nuclear energy reaches a significant growth rate then there will be spin-off benefits such as enabling more electric cars that will also help reduce air pollution. Now as to how regulatory agencies make a difference I recommend following this linkAnswered by Rick Maltese
2 years ago
One positive bit of news is the NRC approval of an amendment to the AP1000 reactor design. It is reported that this will open the door to new construction on new reactors within the US and internationally. Per WNA:
The issuance of the final ruling was the major outstanding prerequisite before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will be able to grant licenses to construct and operate AP1000 power plants. This is expected shortly for two separate projects, each envisaging two AP1000 units: Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia, under the management of Southern Nuclear; and South Carolina Electric & Gas's (SCE&G's) VC Summer 2 and 3.
Groundwork for both projects began over two years ago, when the NRC approved their siting.
The NRC approval of the AP1000 will be an important landmark for US nuclear power plant construction and approval since it is suppose to help streamline the overall process to operation.
On the world stage per WNN: Six new nuclear power reactors were connected to the world's electricity grids in 2011, adding over 4000 MWe of generation capacity.