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Policy

U.S. lawmakers consider bill to restart nuclear waste repository

by Jessica Morrison
June 27, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 18

Lawmakers in a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee last week considered draft legislation that would revive stalled plans for managing the nation’s nuclear waste stockpile at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, offered the draft to guide discussions aimed at finalizing long-awaited comprehensive nuclear waste legislation. The draft bill would grant the federal Department of Energy jurisdiction over the land in Nevada on which Yucca Mountain sits and prevent the state from refusing to issue needed air and water pollution permits for the proposed geologic repository. Nevada lawmakers criticize the draft, saying that it preempts states’ rights and ignores national security risks related to transporting nuclear waste to the site. Shimkus says the draft bill is the outcome of six years of hearings about Yucca Mountain. Interim storage and permanent disposal of nuclear waste stalled under the Obama Administration, which halted licensing for the repository in 2010. President Donald J. Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget would restart funding for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain and calls for $120 million to restart licensing of the facility.

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