WASHINGTON—Following is a statement from Terry Freese, NEI director of legislative programs, at a news conference held today by the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition to advocate reform of the federal Nuclear Waste Fund appropriations process.
“The Nuclear Energy Institute strongly supports the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition for its efforts to make all payments to the Nuclear Waste Fund available for the Yucca Mountain Project. With annual budget needs expected to increase to more than $1 billion annually during repository construction, this change will help reduce further delays to the Yucca Mountain program that expose the federal government to lawsuits for its failure to manage used nuclear fuel at a federal disposal facility. The federal government is at risk to possible damages in excess of $50 billion if it does not honor contracts with electric utilities.
“Consumers of electricity from nuclear power plants have been paying an average of three-quarters of a billion dollars a year into the Nuclear Waste Fund since 1983 specifically to finance the repository program. The fund contains more than $14 billion, but consumers aren’t seeing a return on their investment. Despite strong, bipartisan support for the repository program, Congress historically has appropriated less than one-fourth of the fees paid by consumers for the program over the past six years.
“Funding shortfalls in past years have forced DOE to defer important programs. Further delay carries a steep cost – about $1 billion a year. The time is long overdue for Congress to change the funding program for Yucca Mountain so that payments to the Nuclear Waste Fund can be used for the project, yet maintain congressional oversight. Yucca Mountain appropriations should not compete each year for funding with unrelated programs when there is dedicated funding for the project.
“The nuclear industry supports the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition and other groups in their efforts to engage their elected representatives to restore the Nuclear Waste Fund to its intended principles. Doing so ensures effective nuclear waste management that empowers our nation to maximize the benefits from nuclear energy.”
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.