Statement on Hearing for Energy Secretary Nominee Dr. Steven Chu
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today released the following statement in response to a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the nomination of Dr. Steven Chu to head the Department of Energy:
"Dr. Chu is eminently qualified to hold the position of Energy Secretary in the Obama Administration and I hope the Senate will act quickly to confirm his nomination to this important post.
Under lengthy questioning, Dr. Chu repeatedly addressed the nuclear waste question and I am pleased that his comments reflected the Obama Administration's opposition to Yucca Mountain, as well as skepticism for claims that a proliferation-resistant recycling process is now on the immediate horizon.
As Dr. Chu stressed in his testimony, reprocessing nuclear waste creates the very same materials needed to build nuclear weapons and that is a problem which cannot be swept under the rug. The nuclear industry and its allies are calling for billions of dollars to create a new process that they claim will not increase the risk of bomb-making materials falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations, but there is no guarantee such a solution can be developed in the near future.
The only safe, workable solution to our nation's nuclear waste problem is already in use today at nuclear power plants across America where waste is stored above ground in secure, hardened emplacements. This method of on-site storage will keep toxic radioactive garbage off our roads and railways for the next century and out of the hands of those seeking the means to build a dirty bomb or worse, a full-scale nuclear weapon. Dry cask storage will also provide needed time for new scientific breakthroughs that could ultimately eliminate the need for geologic storage.
Those committed to moving forward on an expensive new recycling program should spell out where they plan to find the cash to fund this scheme, especially if they also insist we continue funding Yucca Mountain to the tune of $100 billion. Will consumers be asked by the nuclear industry to pay higher fees or more taxes in order to fund this activity or will the money just magically appear? That is the question the nuclear industry and its allies should be prepared to answer.