WASHINGTON—The Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation today that would assure needed funding for the planned Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear waste repository program. The subcommittee approved a substitute amendment to H.R. 3981 that provides a five-year reclassification of the Nuclear Waste Fund – a dedicated fund financed by users of nuclear-generated electricity at the rate of 1/10th of a cent per kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed. The amendment allows revenue from this fund to offset spending in the congressional budget process. While revenues of about $750 million flow into the fund annually, a House appropriations subcommittee recently appropriated only $131 million for the Yucca Mountain project in fiscal year 2005. The following is a statement from John Kane, NEI senior vice president of governmental affairs.
“The Nuclear Energy Institute congratulates the subcommittee for embracing a solution that will address the funding requirements for Yucca Mountain. The subcommittee’s action allows the Nuclear Waste Fund to be used for its intended purpose over the next five years as a self-financed program that doesn’t force it to compete against other federal budget activities. The Yucca Mountain program has entered a critical period. The Department of Energy will submit a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of this year, with the ultimate goal of initiating operations at the state-of-the-art underground disposal facility in 2010.
“We commend Chairmen Barton and Hall for their leadership in crafting a workable solution for Yucca Mountain funding. We also appreciate the statements made by ranking members Dingell and Boucher recognizing the importance of finding a permanent adjustment to allow long-term access to the fund. When enacted, this legislation will mean that the consumers of nuclear-generated electricity who finance the repository program will get a return on their investment.
“This legislation rightly allows for continued 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 that adequate and predictable funding can be assured.”
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.