Taking Nuclear Waste Storage Seriously
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While President Obama has at various points professed his support for nuclear energy—a clean, efficient source of power-- his administration’s actions have at times belied that support. One of the most obvious example is the Obama administration’s handling of nuclear waste.
Despite the fact that the federal government continues each year to collect fees from utilities (and therefore ratepayers) to store and dispose of nuclear waste, the administration effectively cancelled the Yucca Mountain repository and has failed to provide any alternative to on-site storage at our nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.
While on-site storage is safe, it has long been our national policy to establish a permanent repository, and there are many advantages to doing so from an environment and national security standpoint. That’s why it is so troubling that the administration has been actively opposing a long term solution on this issue. It also is not surprising that many in Congress are growing impatient with the lack of action.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (328-81) to provide $10 million to allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to continue its review of the Yucca Mountain license application. Last year, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board ruled that the Department of Energy may not withdraw the application, but adequate funding has not been in place at the NRC to complete it.
Unfortunately, election year politics will likely stand in the way of the provision becoming law, but it is encouraging to see that at least the House of Representatives is taking its legal responsibility to provide long term storage for nuclear waste seriously even if the Obama Administration is not.