WASHINGTON—The House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved a fiscal year (FY) 2007 spending bill that fully funds the Yucca Mountain repository at the Bush administration’s request for $544.5 million, a 10 percent increase over the $495 million appropriated for the nuclear waste program this year. The Yucca Mountain appropriation includes $156.4 million from the Nuclear Waste Fund, financed by consumers who use nuclear-generated electricity. The committee also approved restoring $27 million in funding for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) university research program and $54 million for Nuclear Power 2010, DOE’s new nuclear power plant initiative. The following is a statement from Alex Flint, NEI senior vice president of governmental affairs.
“As the nation is in the midst of its greatest energy challenge in a generation, the nuclear industry is pleased that the appropriations committee recognizes that in order to progress toward our goals of energy independence and security there must be a substantial investment in nuclear energy. These new appropriations will help provide the resources needed for a continuous contribution from the leading source of energy that doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases.
“The committee’s $544.5 million appropriation for the planned Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository for used commercial nuclear fuel and defense waste will provide the means to enable DOE to move the program forward in a timely manner. We especially welcome the appropriation of $30 million that will enable DOE to seek options for early movement of spent fuel from plant sites fulfilling its commitment under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. The funding also will enable DOE to finalize the surface facility design, proceed with development on transportation infrastructure and help prepare the long-overdue Yucca Mountain license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
“While the committee recommended a 10 percent increase in funding for Yucca Mountain next year, they only appropriated $156.4 million from the Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a revenue stream of around $750 million annually. The fund has collected nearly $27 billion since 1983 with only about $7 billion used toward development of the repository.
“As we’ve done for so many years, we once again call upon Congress to reclassify the budget treatment of the Nuclear Waste Fund to its original and intended purpose of self-financing the development of a geologic repository to isolate commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from the Defense Department.
“The appropriations bill meets the administration’s request and provides $54 million for Nuclear Power 2010, but the industry believes the program should be accelerated next year with additional funding as nine nuclear companies have announced plans to file between 12 and 19 combined construction and operating licenses for new plants with the NRC over the next two years. This funding will be instrumental in demonstrating the licensing process and finalizing the detailed first-of-a-kind engineering designs for new plants.
“While we recognize that the Congress has important questions regarding the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, we fully support increased funding for the Advanced Fuel Cycle Partnership in FY2007. We recognize that the final level of appropriation for this program will be determined in a conference between the House and Senate.”
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.