This afternoon, Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) voted for an amendment to the annual energy and water appropriations bill that would provide funds for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to complete its review of the license for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository. Pennsylvania consumers have paid an estimated $1.4 billion into the design and construction of the project.
"The Obama Administration has halted 30 years of work and walked away from a $15 billion investment in a breathtaking act of cronyism," said Congressman Pitts. "When President Obama appointed Nevada Senator Harry Reid's close aide, Gregory Jaczko, to the chairmanship of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Yucca Mountain was halted in its tracks. I believe that was the purpose of Jaczko's appointment. Jaczko has since resigned under extreme pressure from his fellow commissioners who wrote to the President complaining about his conduct. The proposed new chairman, conveniently for Senator Reid, is also opposed to proceeding with Yucca Mountain. President Obama has done a big favor for his friend Harry Reid. The price tag? For Pennsylvanians, it's $1.4 billion in utility bill surcharges that have been tossed into a black hole."
The United States has been trying to establish a single site for nuclear waste storage since 1957. Remote Yucca Mountain was identified in 1987 and should have begun storing spent fuel in 1998. Despite a multi-billion-dollar investment and geological studies into the safety of the site, all progress was halted in 2009 after the inauguration of President Obama. The result is that nuclear waste continues to be stored at a large number of sites all over the United States. In 2011, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Environment and Economy began an investigation, saying it could find no scientific or technical basis for halting the project.
Despite a court order to finish this licensing process for the site, NRC has refused claiming it does not have the funds to complete work on the license. The amendment would provide an additional $10 million to finish the work. The House passed the amendment with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 326-81.