A bipartisan duo of House lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation intended to help the federal government finally build a nuclear waste repository under Yucca Mountain, Nev.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019 is a slightly updated version of legislation introduced in 2017 by Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). That bill made it out of the House on a 340-72 vote last year, but gained no traction in the Senate before the last Congress ended.
This time, Shimkus teamed with Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) to file the measure. It had 12 additional co-sponsors as of Wednesday morning, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
The aim of the bill is the same as the previous iteration: Provide opportunities for both consolidated interim storage and ultimately permanent disposal of tens of thousands of tons of spent nuclear power reactor fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
Like the prior Shimkus proposal, the legislation would make a series of amendments to the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, including: authorizing the Department of Energy to site, build, and operate at least one consolidated interim storage facility, prioritizing storage of waste from retired nuclear power plants that are in seismically active areas or near large bodies of water; withdraw 147,000 acres of federal land in Nye County, Nev., for the repository; and update the level of payments to the host states for interim storage and permanent disposal sites.
“Our country has a dangerous buildup of inadequately secured nuclear waste,” McNerney said in a press release. “We need a short and long-term solution for the storage and disposal of nuclear waste. This hazardous logjam puts communities at risk and inhibits our ability to integrate nuclear power into a robust emissions-reducing agenda to combat the impending threats of climate change.”
In April, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) announced plans to introduce a version of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act in the upper chamber. The bill has not yet been filed.