WASHINGTON—The following is a statement by the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Frank L. “Skip” Bowman, regarding the U.S. Department of Energy’s submission to Congress today of legislation entitled the “Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act.” The legislation is designed “to enhance the management and disposal” of used nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and high-level radioactive waste from U.S. defense programs at a geologic repository planned for Yucca Mountain, Nev.
“The nuclear energy industry is pleased that the Bush administration has presented Congress with legislation to facilitate implementation of the federal government’s used nuclear fuel management program. The Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act is a logical next step to Congress’s bipartisan approval in 2002 of the joint resolution that designated Yucca Mountain as the site for a state-of-the-art repository.
“The bill will help achieve the opening of the Yucca Mountain repository and maximize the myriad benefits that the nation receives from nuclear energy for the long term. Nuclear energy strengthens U.S. energy security by reliably providing electricity to one of every five homes and businesses.
“We view this legislation as additional evidence that the administration continues its strong support for nuclear energy as part of a diverse energy portfolio for our nation. This legislation also shows that the administration recognizes the importance of a responsible used-fuel policy. For more than 20 years now, electricity customers have paid funds through their monthly electricity bills into the federal Nuclear Waste Fund specifically for the development of a geologic repository for used nuclear fuel. This legislation will help the government keep faith with the American people while being a good environmental steward.
“This is a very positive step to help the federal government meet its statutory and contractual obligation to begin disposing of used fuel being stored at nuclear power plant sites. We are pleased that this legislation reflects many of the industry’s expressed policy priorities for used nuclear fuel management:
It maintains a strong government commitment to the Yucca Mountain program, for example, through land withdrawal provisions, licensing process amendments and infrastructure activities;
It increases assurance that there will be adequate funding for the Department of Energy’s used fuel management program by changing the budget treatment for the Nuclear Waste Fund;
It removes the artificial, 70,000-metric ton capacity limitation for the repository; and
It reaffirms on a broad policy basis the nation’s confidence in geologic disposal of used nuclear fuel, eliminating the need for a regulatory determination of “Waste Confidence.”
“We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress as the bill advances through the legislative process. We hope this process will begin as quickly as possible, with hearings scheduled immediately upon Congress’s return from the Easter recess.”
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.