House energy panel to look at Yucca Mountain, spent fuel storage

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has announced that its Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hear testimony on “Federal, State, and Local Agreements and Economic Benefits for Spent Nuclear Fuel Disposal” during a July 7 hearing.

The hearing is expected to examine:

  • Historical issues associated with benefits and administrative costs authorized by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act;
  • Legislative and administrative options for Federal, State, local, and Tribal partnerships to site, license, operate, and oversee a nuclear waste repository; and
  • Options for State and local oversight in safety and regulatory issues.

In 1987, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), designating Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the sole site for a deep, geological repository to permanently dispose of high-level radioactive waste (HLW) and spent nuclear fuel (SNF).

When Nevada’s former governor officially objected to President George W. Bush’s Yucca Mountain site recommendation in 2002, the state forfeited the opportunity to receive benefits under the NWPA.

In 2012, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future also addressed the need to enter into serious benefit negotiations, noting “affected states, tribes, and communities will reasonably expect incentives for helping to address the important national issue of nuclear waste management.”

Since then, discussion regarding how to reexamine and structure an agreement between the federal government, the state, affected units of local government (AULGs), and tribal governments has continued, according to a committee briefing paper on the hearing.

In 2003, the Nevada State Legislature debated a bill that would have identified projects related to the development of Yucca Mountain for Federal government support, such as construction of a hospital to be prepared for potential heightened public health risks.

A couple of years ago the federal courts ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to continue work on the licensing case for the Yucca Mountain spent fuel facility by using available funds.

Should the NRC eventually issue a license to build and operate the Yucca Mountain spent fuel facility, the federal government and state and local government entities “should engage in a partnership” to provide benefits and support for the communities surrounding the site.

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. and the webcast will be available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/.

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.