House Republicans aren't giving up on Yucca Mountain as a long-term nuclear-waste storage site, despite a bipartisan Senate plan to explore alternatives and establish a new nuclear-waste agency. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz signaled his support for the Senate plan in a Tuesday hearing, but faced a less receptive audience Wednesday in the lower chamber.
Moniz testified before the House Energy and Commerce Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, giving the administration's view that the disputes over the Yucca Mountain site have "no end in sight." The United States needs "a new workable long-term goal" for its nuclear waste, Moniz said. "The [Yucca Mountain] stalemate couldn't continue indefinitely."
Republicans pushed back, calling Yucca Mountain the legally designated site and disparaging alternative approaches as too costly. "DOE's new waste strategy very much represents the administration's effort to start from scratch as if the Nuclear Waste Policy Act doesn't exist," said subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., adding that new site location efforts would cost $5.6 billion in the first 10 years. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., called Yucca Mountain the "clear answer," saying it "could be completed faster than a new effort to build interim storage, thus making Yucca Mountain the best option for mitigating taxpayer liability."