Energy and Commerce Committee Members Shimkus, Green, and Burgess Embark on Trip to Yucca Mountain

April 25, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Building on the Energy and Commerce Committee's ongoing inquiry into nuclear safety and the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) tomorrow will lead a congressional visit to the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Joining Shimkus are Energy and Commerce committee members Gene Green (D-TX) and Michael Burgess (R-TX). Accompanied by representatives from the Department of Energy, the members will tour Yucca Mountain on Tuesday in search of answers about the administration's decision to abandon development of the only U.S. nuclear waste site.

Last month, Shimkus and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) launched an investigation into the administration's decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain project. The Government Accountability Office estimates that more than $14 billion has been spent on the Yucca Mountain repository since 1983, $9.5 billion of which has been directly collected from the public's electric bills.

Congress originally selected Yucca Mountain as the site for the nation's nuclear waste repository in the 1980s. The Yucca project was nearing the finish line with DOE's submission of a construction license application, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission docketed for review in September 2008 and was scheduled to decide within four years (September 2012). The administration's move to close Yucca Mountain has triggered significant concerns from Congress and the surrounding Nye County community.  Neither the Department of Energy nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has presented a scientific or technical basis for the decision to withdraw the project's construction application.

"One role of Congress is to provide oversight of the Executive Branch.  The fact that the Department of Energy has shuttered Yucca Mountain - after spending over $14 billion in ratepayers and taxpayer funds over nearly 20 years - is a concern.  We simply intend to observe and learn about this taxpayer-funded federal project," said Shimkus.

The members will tour the nuclear repository site on Tuesday afternoon followed by a series of meetings with local Nye County commissioners.

Read Chairman Shimkus' article on the urgent need for the U.S. to construct a nuclear storage site HERE.

Shimkus, Green, and Burgess will be available to answer questions from the press following their tour of Yucca Mountain on Tuesday, April 27, at 4:30 p.m. PDT at the Pahrump Valley Museum located at 401 East Basin Avenue. Reporters wishing to listen to the members' report on the site visit should contact the committee for call-in information.