For Immediate Release: December 4, 2015
Contact: Regina L. Davis, 202-898-9382, email@example.com
WASHINGTON—Consumers need a permanent solution to the costly and serious issue of nuclear waste disposal, according to the President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
NARUC President Travis Kavulla of Montana addressed this issue during his testimony Thursday before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy hearing on the nuclear waste fund budgetary, funding and storing issues. With 74,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel at reactor sites in the United States and 2,000 tons of nuclear waste produced annually, Kavulla did not mince words as he pushed for action on a costly program that the Administration and certain elements of Congress have pushed into cold storage.
The current management of nuclear waste needs to change, as Kavulla noted that the current approach "doesn't make sense" and Congress' oversight jurisdiction "has been flouted" under the current paradigm. Consumers would be better served through management by an independent body, to which Congress gives "positive timelines and steps to that body, not ruling by the power of the purse through negations of agency acts, but directing an agency—this new independent body—to do specific things that are enforceable by entities like NARUC [through] courts of law so that no administration in the future can again act to drag its feet on this important issue," said Kavulla.
As noted in Kavulla's testimony, since 1982, more than $40 billion in direct payments and interest have been paid into the U.S. Nuclear Waste Fund, yet there is still no permanent solution to the problem. The lack of progress is tied directly to efforts to block funding for the geologic disposal of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy's unlawful refusal to consider the project's licensing application and closing the DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, actions that NARUC challenged legally, which subsequently required the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to expend outstanding appropriations on the Yucca Mountain license review.
Aside from the billions paid into the fund, the lack of action continues to exert a high cost. Kavulla's testimony points out that $4.5 billion in damages have been paid because of breach of contracts and failure to take title of used fuel. "Every year of delay in accepting used nuclear fuel will increase this liability by approximately $500 million," it further states.
Moving forward with a new organization with a single-minded devotion to the cause of permanently storing used fuel would help put the program's "sorry history" on the right path. The hearing is a good start and NARUC will continue to push for nuclear waste management reform and hopes for positive Congressional action. President Kavulla's testimony is available at http://1.usa.gov/1YO37Zr.
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NARUC is a non-profit organization founded in 1889 whose members include the governmental agencies that are engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers in the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. NARUC's member agencies regulate telecommunications, energy, and water utilities. NARUC represents the interests of State public utility commissions before the three branches of the Federal government.
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