Yucca Mountain Vote is a Win for Taxpayers | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Yucca Mountain Vote is a Win for Taxpayers

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2012

 

Contact:  Leslie K. Paige 202-467-5334 Luke Gelber 202-467-5318

Yucca Mountain Vote is a Win for Taxpayers

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, on behalf of taxpayers, who have contributed billions to the evaluation and development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository since 1983, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for pressing forward with Yucca Mountain’s permitting process. By a vote of 326-81, the House approved an amendment to H.R. 5325, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013, that will allocate $10 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) salaries and expenses. Those funds will allow the NRC to move toward completing the Department of Energy’s (DOE) permit application for the use of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear storage site.

The House vote jumpstarts a process that appeared to have ground to a halt two years ago. On January 29, 2010, the White House’s top energy adviser, Carol Browner, declared that “The debate over Yucca Mountain is over as the president has made clear…We’re done with Yucca. We need to be looking at other alternatives.” The DOE under the Obama administration moved to terminate the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management and the Yucca Mountain repository project, and the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget contained no further funding for the project.

To date, through assessments in their utility bills, electricity ratepayers have contributed between $750 and $780 million each year since 1983 into the Nuclear Waste Fund. DOE has spent $15 billion to evaluate various possible sites, to develop Yucca Mountain, and to submit the licensing application, but the national inventory of spent nuclear fuel stands at 65,000 metric tons and not one spent fuel rod has been moved to the Yucca Mountain facility. The spent fuel languishes at 75 sites in 33 states, stored either in cooling pools or, when the pools have reached capacity, in expensive dry cask storage facilities adjacent to operational reactor sites.

According to the Government Accountability Office’s April 2011 report, “If DOE were to pursue an alternate repository – assuming an alternate repository would have costs similar to the Yucca Mountain repository – it is not certain that the fund will have built up a sufficient surplus to site, license, construct, and operate it. DOE makes an annual assessment of the adequacy of the nuclear waste fund to ensure that full costs of a disposal program will be fully recovered.”

“The saga of Yucca Mountain has been one of gross disregard for the demands of nuclear-generated electricity, which constitutes 20 percent of the electricity generated in the country; for the ratepayers, who have contributed and continue to contribute billions to what was supposed to be a lockbox to build a spent nuclear fuel repository; and to the taxpayers, who will pay for the debacle far into the future,” said CCAGW President Tom Schatz. “The sooner the waste can be moved to an exclusive, government-run site, the sooner taxpayers can stop shouldering unnecessary fees,” added Schatz.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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