Morning Briefing - June 12, 2019
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June 12, 2019

House NDAA Blanks Nuclear Waste Disposal

By ExchangeMonitor

The draft version of the House of Representatives’ National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 would allow none of the $26 million the Department of Energy requested for defense nuclear waste disposal.

The measure is in keeping with the lower chamber’s opposition, under the Democratic Party majority installed following the November 2018 midterm elections, to the planned radioactive waste repository under Yucca Mountain, Nev.

The DOE defense nuclear waste disposal line item is one segment of the larger $116 million request for licensing of the Yucca Mountain site and interim storage of radioactive waste in the budget year that begins Oct. 1. The remaining $90 million falls under the separate nuclear waste disposal line item.

If it is ever licensed and built, the Nevada repository would hold both spent reactor fuel from U.S. nuclear power reactors and high-level radioactive waste from defense nuclear operations at the Hanford Site in Washington state and other federal facilities.

The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled today to mark up the draft version of the NDAA from Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

The NDAA only sets authorized spending levels for any given fiscal year. The actual funding levels are set by the House and Senate Appropriations committees, then finalized in conference.

The House Appropriations Committee in May approved its $46.4 billion energy and water bill for fiscal 2020. Rather than the $116 million sought by DOE, it would provide $47.5 million for integrated management of U.S. nuclear waste. Of that, $25 million would be specifically directed toward work on temporary, centralized storage of spent reactor fuel.

The full House is scheduled starting today to consider a multi-agency appropriations “minibus” that includes the energy and water legislation.