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Broad Coalition Urges Immediate Action to Revitalize Federal Used Nuclear Fuel Program


05.17.19

Last year, then-Chairman of the Environment Subcommittee John Shimkus (R-IL) led a bipartisan congressional delegation to the Yucca Mountain site. Learn more about that visit here.

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, a broad coalition of labor unions, state public service commissioners, local government officials, clean energy organizations, and energy trade associations sent a letter to Congressional leaders in the House and Senate urging swift action to address the issue of spent nuclear fuel.

The coalition wrote:

Another year without progress on the Yucca Mountain repository license application and consolidated interim storage is untenable. It is time for the federal government to meet its statutory and contractual obligations. Utilities and their electricity customers have done their part. They have paid more than $41 billion into the Nuclear Waste Fund. Meanwhile, taxpayers have been saddled with the federal government’s inaction, with more than $7 billion in damages having already been paid from the Judgment Fund and billions more in liability continuing to mount.

Earlier this year, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that nuclear power plants in the United States generated more electricity in 2018 than ever before. In fact, the United States still ranks as the world’s largest producer of nuclear power and nuclear power still accounts for roughly 20% of U.S. electricity generation.

Not only is nuclear power an affordable and reliable energy source, it’s also emissions-free.

As Bill Gates has noted, any serious efforts to reduce emissions from energy production to address the effects of climate change must include the continued use and expansion of nuclear power. By addressing the issue of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, this emissions-free energy source will be even more viable for the future.

As the coalition noted in their letter:

Yet the lack of a strong used fuel management program has stymied public support of nuclear power for the existing fleet as well as advanced reactors currently under development. This is unfortunate as the overwhelming scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that used nuclear fuel and defense nuclear waste can be stored, transported, and disposed of safely.

Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Republican Leader John Shimkus (R-IL) is continuing his work to ensure funding is available to restart the safety licensing process for Yucca Mountain at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Completing this important process will provide the public with the authoritative answer on the safety of a permanent repository at the federal facility. Recently, he called for Nevada to support completing the NRC process before nuclear regulators, so concerns by the residents of the state could be authoritatively answered. He also led the E&C Republican push for Yucca Mountain Funding at Appropriations Committee Member Day.

And on May 14, 2019, Reps. Shimkus and Jerry McNerney (D-CA) introduced H.R. 2699, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act (NWPAA) of 2019. The legislation is similar to the NWPAA from the 115th Congress.

Learn more about the NWPAA here.

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