WASHINGTON—The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation (H.R. 3981) today that ensures needed funding for the national nuclear waste repository program to develop an underground, state-of-the art repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., in 2010. The committee approved H.R. 3981 by a vote of 29-19. The measure provides a five-year reclassification of the Nuclear Waste Fund – a dedicated fund financed by users and producers of nuclear-generated electricity at the rate of 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed. H.R. 3981 allows revenue from this fund to offset spending in the congressional budget process. A House appropriations subcommittee recently appropriated only $131 million for the Yucca Mountain project in fiscal 2005, far below the Bush administration’s $880 million budget request and the $750 million that consumers and producers pay into the fund annually. The following is a statement from John Kane, NEI senior vice president of governmental affairs.
“The Nuclear Energy Institute commends the House Energy and Commerce Committee for endorsing much-needed legislation that addresses the Yucca Mountain program’s growing funding needs. H.R. 3981 unshackles the Nuclear Waste Fund from its artificial restraints and allows its revenues to be used for their intended purpose over the next five years as a self-financed program that isn’t forced to compete against other federal programs.
“The Yucca Mountain program has entered a critical period. It is expected that six months from now the Department of Energy will submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a major step toward its ultimate goal of initiating operations at the state-of-the-art underground disposal facility in 2010.
“We commend Chairman Barton and the committee for advancing this workable solution for Yucca Mountain funding that is so clearly in the national interest. Once enacted, this legislation will permit consumers and producers of nuclear-generated electricity to see a re-establishment of the original principle that the money they pay into the Nuclear Waste Fund is spent on the purpose for which it is intended.
“This legislation still allows for congressional oversight of the program to ensure proper use of the Nuclear Waste Fund revenues to achieve the ultimate goal of removal of used nuclear fuel to a centralized location. We urge the full House and the Senate to enact this legislation expeditiously so adequate and predictable funding can be ensured.”
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.