WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved fiscal year 2010 budget legislation today. The following is a statement from Alex Flint, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president for governmental affairs, commenting on nuclear-related provisions in the spending bill:
“The Nuclear Energy Institute congratulates the new leadership of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressmen Pastor and Frelinghuysen, for advancing their first appropriations bill to the full committee. We view today’s action as partial recognition that our industry stands ready and has proven its capability to shoulder a greater load in reliably supplying large amounts of carbon-free electricity and enhancing U.S. energy security.
“NEI is heartened that the committee increased, by $51 million, the administration’s budget request for the Nuclear Power 2010 program that is a cost-shared, industry-government partnership designed to reduce the technical and regulatory uncertainties associated with construction of advanced nuclear power plant designs. Still, the committee designation of $71 million falls well short of the $121 million that the industry intends to invest in the program in fiscal 2010. We had expected DOE to match that commitment to complete this program.“NEI is also pleased that funding for next-generation nuclear plants would rise to $245 million, a 36 percent increase from the current year. We welcome the federal investment in next-generation nuclear plants as recognition of nuclear energy’s long-term role as a clean electricity source.“We thank the committee, as a matter of fairness, for deciding not to include the administration’s proposal to force the industry to pay—yet again—into the federal fund established to decommission Department of Energy uranium enrichment facilities in three states. This would mark the third time that the industry has been required to contribute to this effort, even though it met its $2 billion-plus obligation under a 1992 statute. Conversely, the federal government has yet to meet its initial funding requirements for this program.
“This budget plan, while it has a number of positive aspects, could better reflect the reality that 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.
“These positive aspects are offset by our disappointment that funding for the federal government’s nuclear waste management program would drop to $196 million, only $98 million of it from the federal Nuclear Waste Fund. The federal government must fulfill its legal responsibility to manage used nuclear fuel. With the Department of Energy’s license application for the Yucca Mountain repository pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, sufficient funds should be made available to advance the application through the licensing process while the blue-ribbon commission being formed by Energy Secretary Chu evaluates the nuclear fuel cycle.
“It also is disappointing that the fiscal 2010 budget does not seek additional funding for loan guarantees for low-carbon energy technologies that qualify under the clean-energy loan guarantee program authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Seventeen applications for as many as 26 new reactors that would be built over the next 10 to 20 years are pending before the NRC.“The government can and should do more to encourage construction of the first group of the many new nuclear plants that our nation needs to stimulate economic growth, create jobs and help meet the threat of global climate change. Federal investment in nuclear energy has proven its worth many times over—as evidenced by record-high levels of electricity production from power plants that are far and away our nation’s leading carbon-free electricity source.”