WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate and House of Representatives conferees yesterday approved an Energy and Water Development appropriations bill (H.R. 2419) for fiscal year 2006. The $30.5 billion spending measure features $226 million for nuclear energy research and development, including $66 million for the Department of Energy’s new nuclear power plant initiative (Nuclear Power 2010), $55 million for the Generation IV nuclear plant program and $80 million for the government’s Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative. The bill also includes $450 million for the nuclear waste management program, with $100 million of that money coming from the federal Nuclear Waste Fund. An additional $50 million is provided for a new integrated used fuel recycling program. The following is a statement from Skip Bowman, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer.
“The nuclear energy industry is pleased that appropriations conferees, acting in bipartisan fashion at a time when the nation faces many challenges that strain budgetary resources, have made a substantial investment in nuclear energy. Just as earlier federal investment in nuclear energy has paid huge dividends for U.S. families and businesses in need of clean, reliable and affordable energy supplies, these new appropriations will help ensure nuclear energy’s contribution to the nation’s energy diversity and energy security for generations to come.
“The $66 million appropriation for the Nuclear Power 2010 initiative—$10 million over the Administration’s request—is significant. It comes amid a flurry of activity on the part of the nation’s leading energy companies to test the federal government’s new licensing processes for the next series of nuclear power plants that will help America meet the challenges of rising demand for electricity, while addressing concerns over air quality and overreliance on energy imports from unstable parts of the world.
“Similarly, the nation will benefit from federal investment in the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative into the research and development of improved, proliferation-resistant reprocessing technologies. Although these future technologies will not negate the need for the geologic disposal facility at Yucca Mountain, future reprocessing and other advanced technologies have the potential to make disposal of used nuclear fuel less burdensome and more cost-effective. The continued safe, secure and efficient management of used nuclear fuel is integral to our nation’s ability to maximize the benefits we receive from nuclear energy.
“Because neither current nor future advanced reprocessing technologies would obviate the need for a national repository for used nuclear fuel—a reality that ought to be reflected in the report that conferees directed the Department of Energy to provide to Congress by next March—it is proper that appropriations conferees continue to provide significant funding for the state-of-the-art disposal facility planned for Yucca Mountain. Clearly, DOE’s nuclear waste management program is in a state of transition. In a report filed just days ago with a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing board, the Department of Energy stated that it cannot now predict a target date for filing a licensing application for the repository with the NRC.
“The transitions taking place in the waste management program at the Department of Energy should be made public as soon as possible, including a revised five-year funding profile. We believe it is important for Congress to hold oversight hearings on the program, as well as to enact legislative changes, including reclassification of the Nuclear Waste Fund, to accelerate progress in the management of used nuclear fuel.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.