A House hearing on reviving the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada opened this week as lawmakers begin the process to write legislation that would authorize funding for permanent and interim storage of waste.
Legislation would amend the Nuclear Energy Waste Policy Act, and include measures needed to restart licensing and development of the Yucca Mountain site.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment, is looking to write a bill following seven hearings on the need to address the growing problem of storing nuclear waste from power plants nationwide.
The bill would give federal agencies more power over the Yucca site, sidestepping Nevada’s ability to withhold permits for the project.
“This proposal was thoughtfully developed through an extensive record of hearings and other oversight over the past six years to identify what may be needed to strengthen the Nuclear Waste Policy Act,” Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), the subcommittee chair, said.
“Now it is time to get our nation’s nuclear waste management policy back on track through consideration of this legislative proposal.”
The plan has support in the White House. President Trump’s 2018 budget proposes spending $120 million to restart the licensing process for Yucca, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited the site in March.
Local officials of both parties, though, remain stridently opposed to the push. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) sent a letter to appropriators earlier this month asking them to “honor the wishes of the state of Nevada and exclude any funding focused on licensing a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.”