Morning Briefing - May 16, 2018
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May 16, 2018

House Panel’s 2019 Budget Bill ‘Fully Supports’ Yucca

By ExchangeMonitor

Days after the full House of Representatives mustered a massively bipartisan vote to approve a major Yucca Mountain policy bill, the chamber’s Appropriations Committee will consider a measure that “fully supports” funding the proposed permanent nuclear-waste repository in Nevada.

Under the bill to be marked up at 10 a.m. Eastern time today, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would receive a combined $267 million in 2019 to restart the agency’s application to license Yucca as a waste repository, as Congress ordered almost 30 years ago.

That is $100 million more than the White House sought for fiscal 2019, which begins on Oct. 1. The increase the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommmittee recommended is all on the DOE side, and all within the agency’s Nuclear Waste Disposal account. The administration sought $90 million and would receive $190 million for this account, which handles matters related to civilian nuclear waste.

With that funding, DOE should “reestablish its capability to respond to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the adjudicatory process and to otherwise fully support the Yucca Mountain licensing process,” the bill report reads.

Meanwhile, DOE’s Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal account, which handles government-generated waste, would receive $30 million for Yucca operations, while NRC would get the $47.7 million: exactly what the White House requested for both accounts.

“The Committee fully supports the Administration’s position to move forward with Yucca Mountain,” reads the detailed bill report released Tuesday ahead of the full committee mark. The report offers a detailed breakdown of how the subcommittee wants DOE and the NRC to spend the money they would receive, if a bill approved at the subcommittee level last week becomes law.

Congress appropriated no money for Yucca Mountain in the current fiscal 2018. Some House appropriators may fully support Yucca, but some senators, notably Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), do not. Heller, who is running for re-election to a Senate with a 51-49 GOP margin, has threatened to stonewall any bill that provides funding for Yucca. The rest of Nevada’s congressional delegation also opposes storing nuclear waste at the Nye County, Nev., site.