Morning Briefing - May 15, 2019
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May 15, 2019

Democrat-Controlled House Turns Against Yucca Mountain Funding

By ExchangeMonitor

The House Appropriations Committee’s draft fiscal 2020 energy and water bill provides no money to resume federal licensing of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

Instead, the legislation would provide an unspecified appropriation for initial interim storage operations for spent reactor fuel from commercial nuclear power plants, according to a press release from the committee.

This represents a full turnaround in the House, which in recent years has supported the Trump administration’s budget requests to restart the licensing proceeding for the long-stalled disposal site. But that was before Democrats retook control of the lower chamber in the 2018 midterm election.

“Since Yucca shut down in 2010, Congress has passed and Presidents from both parties have signed 8 appropriations bills that included no funding to restart the project,” Griffin Anderson, spokesman for House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee Chair Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), said by email Tuesday. “This bill continues that trend. Rep. Kaptur has chosen to dedicate scarce budgetary resources toward developing other options for nuclear waste, including investing in our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure, and preparing our country’s innovation economy to globally compete.”

The subcommittee markup of the 60-page budget bill is scheduled for noon Eastern time today. The report for the bill, with details on specific interim storage funding levels, must be released 24 hours before the full committee markup. That had not been scheduled as of deadline Wednesday for Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.

For the budget year beginning Oct. 1, the House bill would provide $46.4 billion for the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other agencies. That would be a $1.8 billion spike from the enacted appropriation for fiscal 2019.

In its budget request in March, the White House proposed $31.7 billion for the Energy Department, including $116 million for Yucca Mountain licensing and interim storage activities; and $921.1 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, including $38.5 million to resume reviewing the DOE license application for the repository.

The House bill in total would provide $37.1 billion for DOE and $898.5 million for the NRC.