Morning Briefing - April 10, 2019
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April 10, 2019

House Appropriator Throws Cold Water on Consent-Based Siting for Nuclear Waste

By ExchangeMonitor

There is little hope for a consent-based approach to selecting the site for a U.S. radioactive waste repository, a key appropriator in the House of Representatives said Tuesday.

“I know of no community that will become a permanent repository for nuclear waste based on consent,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), ranking member of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee.

Simpson was responding to a plea against funding the planned waste disposal site under Yucca Mountain, Nev., from Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.). Titus was among more than 20 lawmakers who appeared before the subcommittee during a member day hearing to argue their case for programs to be included or excluded in the upcoming House energy and water appropriations bill for fiscal 2020.

“We don’t use nuclear energy, we don’t produce nuclear waste, and we shouldn’t be forced to store it,” she said.

But at least 10 other House members urged the subcommittee to meet the Trump administration’s request for fiscal 2020 to fund resumed licensing for Yucca Mountain – close to $116 million for the Department of Energy and $38.5 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Energy Department filed its application with the NRC in 2008, but the proceeding was defunded two years later after the Obama administration replaced the George W. Bush administration. The Obama administration tried to initiate a consent-based process to select a new repository location, but did not get far before turning over the White House to the Trump administration in January 2017.

Congress has already rejected two prior Trump administration budget proposals to resume licensing for Yucca Mountain.

“It is time the federal government stop kicking the can down the road. Doing this for 40 years has resulted in about 80,000 tons of commercial spent nuclear fuel and 14,000 tons of defense waste currently scattered in temporary storage over 100 sites,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said in his prepared comments to the subcommittee.