The House gave no additional funds for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) work to finish the review of the Yucca Mountain license in its massive omnibus appropriations bill. While it did find room to spend taxpayer money to fight international poaching of rhinos, Congress did not see fit to ensure that adequate funding is available for long-term management of nuclear waste at commercial nuclear power reactors around the nation. The NRC has been clear that it lacks the means to finish anything beyond the safety evaluation reports. For all the verbal support many in the House have given, Congress should have done more to ensure that the entire licensing process is finished.
Nuclear power can help the U.S. meet is energy, economic, and environmental goals. It is a clean, affordable domestic energy source. Importantly, the NRC’s release of the Safety Evaluation Report Volume 3 concluded that long-term storage of nuclear waste after the closure of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository site is both technically feasible and safe. Several volumes remain for the NRC to release and ultimately the licensing process must be finished. Fundamental problems with nuclear industry regulation and waste management still need to be fixed, however the NRC’s completion of a license for Yucca Mountain is a critical first step in that process.