U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election, removing a prominent voice on nuclear waste issues from Congress a year from now.
Issa has represented a coastal zone north of San Diego, first in the 48th Congressional District and now in the 49th District, since 2001. His exit, announced in a formal statement Wednesday morning, would presumably become effective at the end of the 115th Congress on Jan. 3, 2019.
In the statement, Issa highlighted his service to the area and achievements against congressional earmarks, for intellectual property protection, and to augment the Violence Against Women Act. He made no mention of his years-old effort on removal of radioactive spent fuel from the retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in his district.
Plant owner Southern California Edison plans to store about 3.5 million pounds of spent fuel in dry-cask containers near the Pacific Ocean until a temporary or permanent off-site repository becomes available. While it agreed in a recent lawsuit settlement to pursue “commercially reasonable” efforts to move the waste to another location, there is no assurance regarding when or even if that will occur.
Last January, Issa introduced the Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2017, which would authorize the Department of Energy to establish contracts for temporary storage of U.S. spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The bill, a fresh version of legislation that Issa co-sponsored in 2015, remains in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Issa was also among the more than 100 lawmakers who co-sponsored Rep. John Shimkus’ Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, which would strengthen the federal government’s ability to license and build the long-planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. That bill is awaiting a floor vote in the House.
I“This is a major issue for the district in one of those areas where Republicans and Democrats almost agree completely. Serious solutions will require new legislation, such as that cosponsored by Congressman Issa,” David Victor, chairman of the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel, said by email Wednesday. “So I expect his successor focus a lot on this topic. … They won’t have the seniority of Congressman Issa, so the capacity to do something about it will probably be diminished.”
Issa’s office did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Wednesday for Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.