A leading think tank called on Congress to address the nation's used nuclear fuel management and give "prompt consideration" to legislation that would help move critical federal programs forward. The Heritage Foundation issued a backgrounder last week on the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2008: Modernizing Spent Fuel Management in the U.S. Here are the recommendations the paper makes:
However, the Yucca Mountain program still faces many challenges and powerful opponents. The Nevada congressional delegation has long opposed Yucca Mountain, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the program's number one opponent.
To modernize spent fuel management in the U.S. and provide the flexibility, clarifications, and authorizations needed to move nuclear power forward in the United States, Congress should:
- Set a deadline requiring the Secretary of Energy to submit a repository license application for the Yucca Mountain repository within the next few months.
- Provide for a phased licensing regime for the Yucca repository that would store spent nuclear fuel, but actively monitor it and keep it available for retrieval. ...
- Remove artificial capacity restraints on the repository. Technology, science, and actual physical capacity should be the primary limiting factors with respect to Yucca's storage capacity.
Commentator Chuck Muth offers a compelling critique of Nevada's anti-Yucca campaign below:
When It Comes to Yucca, We’re Out of LouxSome Nevada politicans are likely to remain opposed to Yucca Mountain regardless of the potential benefits to Nevadans in terms of jobs and investments. However, many policymakers and others are calling for the government to help move forward with aspects of the used fuel management program.
The state of Nevada’s knee-jerk, one-sided anti-Yucca campaign was again being sold at a forum yesterday, but a funny thing happened on the way to market: Few were buying it.
Last week, Sen. Pete Domenci (R-N.M.) said at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing that the government should implement a nuclear fuel recycling program this year. He noted that the question about used fuel management is "the only thing that stands in the way of maximum acceptance of nuclear power."