Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement on the announcement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) directing its staff to complete the safety evaluation report for the Yucca Mountain project, which had been stalled since 2010. The NRC's action was mandated by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in August 2013.
"This is an important development for the Yucca Mountain project that would never have happened under former NRC leadership and if the Obama Administration had its way," said Vitter. "Moving forward, I will regularly check in with the NRC board as they take the appropriate steps to objectively continue Yucca Mountain's application process."
Earlier this year during NRC Chairman Allison MacFarlane's re-nomination hearing before the EPW Committee, Senator Vitter asked if the NRC would honor the court decision when the Yucca Mountain case is concluded. Chairman Macfarlane promised, "We will follow the law."
In 2008, the Department of Energy (DOE) submitted the license application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project in Nevada, in conjunction with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. In 2010, under then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko's leadership, the licensing process was illegally halted, missing numerous statutory deadlines.
Currently, there is no nuclear-waste repository, yet DOE has continued to collect a nuclear waste fee from utilities and their customers. Earlier today, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the Agency to stop collecting the fee until the Yucca Mountain project is reopened or another repository program is passed into law. Further highlighting the mismanagement issues within the Obama Administration, the Court's opinion said, "The [DOE] Secretary's position is so obviously disingenuous that we have no confidence that another remand would serve any purpose."