WASHINGTON, D.C.—Nuclear Energy Institute today issued the following statement from General Counsel Ellen Ginsberg after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in NARUC v. DOE. NEI and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) filed the lawsuit to challenge the U.S. Department of Energy’s continued collection of the one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour surcharge to pay for used nuclear fuel management. NEI and NARUC asserted that DOE’s termination of the Yucca Mountain repository program prevented DOE from determining whether an appropriate fee was being collected because there is no program to be evaluated. In a unanimous decision, D.C. Circuit Senior Judge Silberman wrote that, “Because the Secretary is apparently unable to conduct a legally adequate fee assessment, the Secretary is ordered to submit to Congress a proposal to change the [nuclear waste] fee to zero until such time as either the Secretary chooses to comply with the [Nuclear Waste Policy] Act as it is currently written, or until Congress enacts an alternative waste management plan.”
“Today’s decision confirms that the federal government cannot continue to defy Congress’ explicit direction to implement a viable program to manage reactor fuel from America’s nuclear power plants. The court’s ruling reinforces the fundamental principle that the federal government’s obligation is to carry out the law, whether or not the responsible agency or even the president agrees with the underlying policy.
“We agree with the court that unless and until the Energy Department’s repository program is restarted or another waste disposal program is developed, it is appropriate that the Nuclear Waste Fund fee be suspended.
“The court’s decision should prompt Congress to reform the government’s nuclear waste disposal program. We strongly encourage Congress to establish a new waste management entity, and endow it with the powers and funding necessary to achieve the goals originally established in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. We look forward to working with Congress as members develop legislative proposals to remedy the currently untenable situation.”