WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute commended Chairman Mike Simpson and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur on successfully passing the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Development Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The open rule certainly makes consideration of any bill a challenge. The subcommittee leaders clearly have mastered the process, leading to approval of a funding package that supports nuclear energy as part of a diverse electricity mix,” said Alex Flint, NEI’s senior vice president for Governmental Affairs.
In particular, the nuclear industry is appreciative that the bill did not include a $2 billion tax on nuclear utility customers proposed by the administration. The duplicative tax, to help pay for the decontamination and decommissioning of the U.S. Department of Energy’s uranium enrichment facilities, would force consumers of electricity from nuclear energy facilities to pay a third time for their share of those remediation costs. “We are grateful that the bill’s authors recognized that the proposed tax is unjustified. Electricity consumers have already paid their share of those costs, and should not be taxed to pay a third time,” Flint said.
“We are also pleased with the strong votes in favor of the Yucca Mountain project. We need to make progress on safely and securely managing used nuclear fuel, and tonight’s votes show that the House is resolutely committed to making progress in that regard,” Flint said. The House budgeted $205 million—$150 million to DOE and $55 million to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—to continue licensing activities for the nuclear waste repository planned for the Nevada desert.
Additionally, the House provided $420 million in fiscal 2015 for the fissile materials disposition program, including continuing construction of the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The administration proposed to put the program on standby while it evaluates alternative approaches to convert weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel. Numerous political leaders and the industry opposed the administration’s plan to halt construction.
Flint said that the House action, led by Simpson and Kaptur, reflects the lawmakers’ recognition that nuclear energy is a vital component of a diverse electricity portfolio benefiting the nation.
“The Appropriations Committee confronted a number of amendments that would have cut the bill’s support for nuclear energy during debate on the floor, and lawmakers were able to turn back those proposed cuts in all but one instance. The industry recognizes that budget pressures are intense. The committee’s commitment to progress at the Yucca Mountain repository for used nuclear fuel management, its support for workers at the mixed-oxide fabrications facility in South Carolina, and its investment in research and development for advanced-design reactors are immensely important,” Flint said.