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Energy and Water Development and Related Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARTON. Mr. Chairman, I want to rise in support of Chairman Frelinghuysen's opposition to the Heck amendment.

We have heard quite a bit of rhetoric on the floor the last 10 minutes about Yucca Mountain, and I understand my colleagues from Nevada's opposition to a project in their State or their district that was somewhat unilaterally sited there. I will accept that the process by which Yucca Mountain was initially chosen was a political process and was not done the way the original Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 said it should be done.

Having said that, we have collected about $30 billion over the last 30-some-odd years from ratepayers whose electricity is generated by safe, efficient, clean nuclear power--$30 billion. We have spent upwards of $20 billion drilling a tunnel in Yucca Mountain, studying the geology, the hydrology, the environment. My understanding is that the tunnel is completed.

In 2010, unilaterally, the Obama administration decided to shut the project down. It is debatable whether they did that legally or not.

Having said that, the bill that's coming out of the Appropriations Subcommittee, all it does is allocate money that has already been collected to go ahead and finish the site review at Yucca Mountain to determine whether it is, in fact, a safe place to store high-level nuclear waste.

Now, keep in mind that we have over 100 operating nuclear reactors around the country today, and the waste that they generated is stored onsite--stored onsite. There's good security. Most of it is stored in what are called ``wet pools.'' Almost everybody agrees that that's not a long-term solution.

I think the Congress on a bipartisan basis can agree that we ought to go ahead and finish the review of the Yucca Mountain site--$25 million does it. It has also allocated some funding in the bill to help the local government entities out there. Let's finally put this thing to rest.

The gentleman's amendment is well intentioned, but we need a centralized high-level repository. As of now, the most likely place is at Yucca Mountain. We have spent billions--billions of dollars--on that site. Let's spend another $25 million and finish the job.

I join Chairman Frelinghuysen in opposing the Heck amendment and hope the House also does that.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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