House Omnibus bill keeps Yucca Mountain option alive

The FY 2014 House Omnibus Appropriations bill unveiled Jan. 13 by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), includes a provision to keep the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository option alive.

A federal appeals court ruled last summer that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was wrong to stop reviewing the application for the proposed Yucca Mountain spent fuel site in Nevada because it lacked funding to finish the job.

In general terms, the bill abides by all the terms set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (the “Ryan-Murray Agreement”), providing a total of $1.012 trillion for the operation of the federal government, and meeting the $520.5bn defense and $491.7bn non-defense budget caps.

This type of catch-all spending bill, known as an omnibus, is meant to head off another federal government shutdown.

 At the same time, it addresses what Republicans consider overreach by the Obama administration on energy and environmental issues. For example, it would prohibit the Export-Import Bank from blocking coal and other power-generation projects.

The Omnibus contains all 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal year 2014, with no area of the government functioning under a Continuing Resolution. This allows every program to be weighed individually and prioritized, with funding targeted to the most important and effective programs while lower-priority programs are reduced, Rogers said.

“My committee worked closely with our colleagues in the Senate to find common ground. This bill is a compromise, but it reflects Republican priorities and holds the line on spending in many critical areas,” Chairman Rogers continued.

The Energy and Appropriations omnibus provides $10.2bn for energy programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) – a $620m increase above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level – to support energy programs that encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and help advance the nation’s goal of an all-of-the-above solution to energy independence.

Funding for research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil and other fossil fuel technology is increased from both the FY 2013 enacted level and President Obama’s request. The level of funding for nuclear energy research would also be increased.

The Interior and Environment appropriations omnibus provides additional funding for onshore and offshore energy and minerals management, and by preventing the administration from imposing new fees on the energy industry. Overall, the legislation provides $30.1bn for Interior and Environment programs, $231m over the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

The bill provides $8.2bn for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is $143m below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. Overall, EPA funding has been reduced by $2.1bn – or 20.4% – since Republicans gained control of the House in 2010.

The GOP would reject a request by the Obama administration for $72m for EPA regulatory programs, including $31m for EPA climate regulatory programs.

More details are available at http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=366721

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.