WASHINGTON, DC – The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today held a hearing entitled, “Federal, State, and Local Agreements and Economic Benefits for Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal.” Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was designated in 1987 as the sole site for a deep, geological repository to store high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Congress included mechanisms in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act for collaborative partnerships with state, tribal, and local governments such as funding for technical support activities and economic benefits to host a nuclear disposal facility. The hearing provided the subcommittee the opportunity to hear from Nevada stakeholders and explore the federal, state, and local perspectives and economic benefits of moving forward with the Yucca Mountain project.
Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV) stressed the fact that Nevadans cannot simply ignore Yucca Mountain and think it is off the table, testifying, “No one in Nevada is in favor of a nuclear landfill – neither am I, but, the issue is not going to go away. If we decide to deal with this, I appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion that says – what are the real impacts, what should our policy be, and in that context, what is the story for Nevada? I’ve got some things for you to think about as policymakers to evaluate a responsible course of conduct with respect to local and state economic impacts, operating oversight, safety policy in the near and long-term, and our policy as a nation regarding the material itself – let’s start there.”
Congressman Cresent Hardy (R-NV) discussed the importance of having an open, constructive dialogue on the issue, stating, “Nevadans deserve to have honest brokers in their federal government, and they deserve to hear the unbiased, scientific results that all of their hard-earned dollars funded. … Too many politicians are afraid to engage in a constructive dialogue on this issue. They fail to recognize that discussing Yucca Mountain doesn’t equal endorsement of the project. Dialogue isn’t capitulation. It’s leadership.”
Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, Vice-Chairman of the Nye County, Nevada Board of County Commissioners discussed the importance of having a collaborative process that supports the community, “I propose creating a collaboration between DOE, the State, Nye County and other impacted local governments to ensure that resources are provided for activities that support the construction and operation of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.”
“The Federal government made the decision to site the repository at the Yucca Mountain site in 1987. DOE should be working with Nevada stakeholders to make progress on the repository instead of ignoring the law. This hearing has done the job that DOE refuses to do,” said Chairman Shimkus. “We will continue to listen to all stakeholders to develop a comprehensive solution to dispose of our country’s spent nuclear fuel. Today’s testimony will play a key role to inform this Committee’s efforts to develop comprehensive legislation to advance used fuel management.”
Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added, “The Department of Energy is now wasting valuable time and money, and ignoring a history lesson while taxpayers continue to rack up billions of dollars in liability for the delay in opening Yucca Mountain. Instead of expending financial resources to hear from everyone but the State of Nevada, DOE should reconstitute the Yucca Mountain program and engage in a meaningful conversation with those stakeholders as we did today. Our nuclear energy future depends on it.”
For a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast of today’s hearing, click HERE.