WASHINGTON, D.C.—Under bipartisan Senate leadership nuclear energy and the Yucca Mountain program received significant support in recent appropriations legislation. The following is a statement from Alex Flint, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, commenting on nuclear-related provisions passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee for a Floor vote later this year.
“Under the leadership of Energy and Water Development Committee Chairman Dorgan and Ranking Member Bennett, vital federal support for building new nuclear plants is poised to be voted on by the Senate this fall. The committee provided $120 million for the Nuclear Power 2010 program, which will restore the program to the level agreed to by the Department of Energy and industry in a cost-sharing partnership.
“The NP 2010 program is tremendously important to industry’s efforts to deploy new reactor designs in the United States and overseas where, in the Committee’s words, ‘there is strong interest in nuclear power.’
“The industry also is grateful that the Committee rejected the Administration’s unfair proposal to reinstate the Uranium Decontamination and Decommissioning fee which industry has already paid in full.
“In addition, the industry appreciates the Committee’s support for its request that the Secretary of Energy suspend collection of the nuclear waste fee."
On July 8 the nuclear industry, in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, called for a suspension of the Nuclear Waste Fund fee collected of nuclear ratepayers. The Senate Committee, while following the administration’s recommendation of $98 million for the Waste Fund, noted that the fund has a balance of $22 billion and generates interest of approximately $1 billion each year. Because of budget cuts for the Yucca Mountain repository program, the committee said it “expects the secretary of energy to suspend collection of payments to the Nuclear Waste Fund.”
“The Committee also provided more than $1 billion for Nuclear Regulatory Commission activities associated with licensing new nuclear plants and oversight of existing reactors, and for the second consecutive year the Senate has endorsed an Integrated University Program with DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“Nuclear energy is our nation’s only expandable large-scale energy source capable of producing electricity around the clock without emitting air pollutants or greenhouse gases,” said Flint. “Many policymakers from both parties and from all regions of the country recognize this. We thank Chairman Dorgan and Senator Bennett for their support, and stand ready to help them meet the energy and environmental challenges that loom before our nation.”