Upton & Shimkus Comment on Obama's Anywhere but Yucca Mountain Panel - "This Administration Should Be Listening to the Nuclear Scientists, Not Political Scientists"

May 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today expressed disbelief with reports that the Obama administration's blue ribbon commission on nuclear waste disposal is set to recommend taxpayers fund a new search for temporary storage - despite 30 years of research and billions of dollars already spent on a permanent storage site buried deep within Yucca Mountain.  Media reports have indicated that the scope of the panel's review did not allow for the consideration of Yucca as an option. The commission was assembled after the Obama administration hastily terminated the longstanding Yucca Mountain project to permanently store spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste.  Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) are conducting an investigation into the administration's termination of the Yucca repository; already, facts have come to light revealing significant internal legal and policy dissent within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about the administration's decision.

Earlier this week the Energy and Commerce Committee released an extensive report compiled by the Government Accountability Office that cites politics as the basis for attempting to terminate the project, not technical or safety issues.
 
"The Obama administration's blue ribbon panel is nothing short of a smokescreen - we already have a long-term, visionary plan for permanent storage in Yucca Mountain," said Upton and Shimkus. "It is unconscionable for the Obama administration to squander three decades of bipartisan collaboration, breakthrough scientific research, and billions of taxpayer dollars, all for what the GAO has determined to be political calculations.  This administration should be listening to the nuclear scientists, not political scientists, on matters as serious as our nuclear future.  Nuclear safety is a matter of national security, and political motives cannot be allowed to jeopardize the investments and expertise gathered over the course of decades." 

BACKGROUND: Prior to the Obama administration's termination, the Yucca project was nearing the finish line for full construction authorization with the Energy Department's submission of a license application, which NRC docketed for review in September 2008 and was required by law to decide on within four years (September 2012). The GAO estimates that nearly $15 billion has been spent on research surrounding the Yucca Mountain repository since 1983, $9.5 billion of which has been directly collected from the public's electric bills.
 

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