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Public Statements

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Disposal Site

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, before I talk about Yucca Mountain, let me just respond to my colleague from Virginia.

Since 2002, food stamps have increased 267 percent, and this reconciliation bill will cut, I think, about 3 percent. Again, since 2002, food stamps have increased 267 percent.

The Senate has not passed a budget in 3 years, so it's very difficult to admonish the House on the budget process when the Senate still has yet to pass a budget.

And what we're really concerned about is the hollowing out of our military force. If the sequestration goes on as planned, we'll have the smallest Air Force in the history of this country that we've ever seen before the Air Force was enacted, the smallest Navy since, I believe, 1915, and a huge decrease in our standing force. That's what the debate is about, and I look forward to having that chance on the floor.

As the chairman of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, one of my jurisdictional responsibilities is high-level nuclear waste. I've come to the floor numerous times to explain to you, Mr. Speaker, the various locations that we store high-level nuclear waste and compare it to where, by law, we should.

By law, we should, based upon the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act and an amendment in 1987, we should be storing it underneath a mountain in a desert. So let's compare that location to a place in Perry, Ohio.

Perry, Ohio, has 452 metric tons of uranium of spent fuel on-site versus zero at Yucca Mountain. The waste is stored aboveground in pools and casks. The waste would be stored in Yucca Mountain 1,000 feet underground.

The waste at Perry would be 12 feet above the groundwater. At Yucca Mountain, it would be 1,000 feet above the water table. And at Perry, it is located on Lake Erie, 35 miles from Cleveland, where Yucca Mountain, the waste is 100 miles from the Colorado River and probably 100-or-so-odd miles from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Clearly, in a comparison and contrast, if you want a safe and secure location--of course we also own the land around Yucca Mountain--clearly, it's easy to determine that Yucca Mountain is a much safer place than on one of our Great Lakes.

So then I talk about, well, have the Senators addressed this in their past? Because the reason why we're not moving forward on Yucca Mountain is Majority Leader Reid has stopped it, along with President Obama.

Well, Senator Brown, when he was a House Member, voted for Yucca Mountain in 2002. So did Senator Portman. Both are Senators from the State of Ohio right now.

Senator Mitch McConnell has stated, and so he supports Yucca Mountain:

When it comes to nuclear energy, we have seen this administration abandon plans and millions in taxpayer dollars before without much consideration of the consequences. Take, for example, its unwillingness to follow through on the nuclear storage site, Yucca.

We've already spent about $15 billion at Yucca Mountain, and Leader McConnell is addressing that issue.

Senator Paul, so far, has been silent. We hope that he comes out with a stated position.

So what does that do to our tally of where Senators are? And we've reached over the 50-vote mark, based upon our analysis of past statements and past votes. With 51 Senators who would vote ``yes,'' that would be a simple majority if the Senate moved by majority standards. Nineteen are undecided--Senator Paul is our recent add--and 20 who identify, based on their past statements, having voted ``no'' or have made statements in opposition to Yucca Mountain.

Why is this important? It's important because we've spent over almost three decades now trying to find a safe, secure location to store high-level nuclear waste. With the Japanese event of last year, Fukushima Daiichi, and the debate on containment vessels and high-level nuclear waste, it is time now to move public policy, or the other body needs to impress upon Leader Reid that it is imperative for this country to have a centralized location.

With these 51 and, hopefully, more that we will identify in the next couple of weeks, we will have close to a 60-seat identification to say it can stop a filibuster, it can stop the majority leader, and it can move to do what we all know is in our best interest: to finally gather up in one centralized location our high-level nuclear waste.

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