The Republicans in Congress have put together their own budget plan for nuclear energy for 2011. Here’s what they don’t like about the Obama administration’s plan:
- Terminating Yucca Application: Yucca is still by law the nation's solution for spent nuclear fuel, and the President's budget raises questions about how the license can be pulled without exposing the U.S. government to potentially billions of dollars in liability payments.
- Sham "Blue Ribbon" Panel: After nearly a year, the Obama Administration finally named its "blue ribbon" Washington panel to study what to do with spent nuclear fuel currently piling up at power plants. Labor unions and environmental organizations are well-represented on the commission.
- Excluding Nuclear from Energy Legislation: The House-passed cap-and-tax energy bill, H.R. 2454, excluded nuclear power (a greenhouse gas neutral technology) from its federal renewable energy standard (RES), which would have made it easier for many States to comply with this costly mandate.
This is heavily edited, so be sure to read the whole thing. Here is what the party calls its no-cost nuclear plan:
- Fast Track Regulatory Process: The bill authorizes an accelerated regulatory process for new reactor applicants, which meet certain conditions, in order to cut the time needed to permit new plants by roughly 50 percent.
- Health and Safety: The bill clarifies that nothing would decrease the NRC's ability to maintain the highest public health and safety standards.
- Yucca Mountain: The bill prohibits the Administration from withdrawing the Yucca Mountain application before the NRC, and repeals Yucca Mountain's current 70,000-metric ton limitation, letting science and technology rather than politics dictate how much the repository can safely hold.
- Recycling: The bill requires the Secretary of Energy to use amounts in the current Waste Fund to enter into long-term contracts with private sector entities for the recycling of spent fuel, and prohibits future Administrations from blocking or hindering recycling spent nuclear fuel.
- Tariff Suspension: The plan suspends import tariffs and duties on imported nuclear components for five years where there is no domestic manufacturer.
- Investment Tax Credit: The bill expands an existing energy investment tax credit for renewable energy equipment to include nuclear and clean-coal equipment.
- National Nuclear Energy Council: The legislation establishes a National Nuclear Energy Council to help nuclear energy related investors navigate the federal bureaucracy to efficiently bring their products and services into the marketplace. The Council would also identify ongoing barriers to nuclear energy.
- Mandatory Hearings for Uncontested Licenses: The legislation would eliminate mandatory timely and costly adjudicatory hearings for uncontested license applications.
- Temporary Spent-Fuel Storage: The plan directs the Interior Department to grant all necessary rights of way and land use authorizations needed for proposed spent fuel storage facilities if a State and locality reach an agreement with a private entity
We present this to you without much comment. We think some of the ideas may well gain some traction while others are free-market, anti regulatory items that might have trouble under a Republican administration – because undoing things can take as long as doing them, and the party seems to want to scurry things along. The Republicans are in a position to maintain ideals, though, and that’s to the good. These are ideas not put through the push-pull of a lengthy legislative process nor weighted against other energy priorities. So it’s a pretty clean set of ideas.
So read the whole thing and see what you think.