House Republicans Slam NRC’s Pace on Yucca Review

Sept. 10, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

A Re­pub­lic­an-led pan­el on Tues­day dis­paraged Pres­id­ent Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion for not act­ing faster to re­start its study of the con­tro­ver­sial Yucca Moun­tain nuc­le­ar-waste-stor­age pro­ject in Nevada.

Rep­res­ent­at­ive John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee pan­el that held the hear­ing, said the Nuc­le­ar Reg­u­lat­ory Com­mis­sion “again ap­pears to be stalling” ac­tion on the Nevada pro­ject, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg. Obama and Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Sen­at­or Harry Re­id (D-Nev.) op­pose the ef­fort to es­tab­lish a sub­ter­ranean atom­ic dump roughly 90 miles from Las Ve­gas.

NRC Chair­wo­man Al­lis­on Mac­far­lane told the En­vir­on­ment and the Eco­nomy Sub­com­mit­tee that her agency still lacks the funds to com­plete a re­quired safety re­view of the po­ten­tial fa­cil­ity, the wire ser­vice re­por­ted. She said the com­mis­sion had yet to fin­ish es­tim­at­ing how much money it would need for the en­vir­on­ment­al study.

Still, Mac­far­lane test­i­fied that her group is “now fol­low­ing the law, we are mov­ing for­ward.” NRC staff mem­bers are work­ing on a re­vised es­tim­ate of costs to com­plete the study, and will col­lect in­put from the pub­lic un­til the end of the month, she ad­ded.

A fed­er­al ap­peals court ruled on Aug. 13 that the com­mis­sion had to ac­cept or re­ject a per­mit for the pro­posed waste site, say­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion was “flout­ing the law” by not com­plet­ing the re­view.

House Re­pub­lic­ans ar­gue that cur­rent law clearly des­ig­nates Yucca Moun­tain as the na­tion’s nuc­le­ar-waste re­pos­it­ory.

“Com­pli­ance with the law is not op­tion­al,” En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton (R-Mich.) re­portedly said at the Tues­day hear­ing. He ar­gued jump-start­ing the Yucca Moun­tain pro­gram is the “clearest, fast­est and most fisc­ally re­spons­ible way” for the United States to dis­card spent nuc­le­ar fuel.

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