United States Congressmen Mike Simpson, Doc Hastings, and Paul Ryan sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients requesting a review of the decision taken by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko to shut down the review of the Department of Energy’s application for Yucca Mountain. Chairman Jaczko acted unilaterally to discontinue the review of the Department of Energy’s application for Yucca Mountain and terminate the project.
In their letter, the Congressmen noted that while the Obama Administration opposes Yucca Mountain, it remains our nation’s repository for spent nuclear fuel and high level defense waste under the law. The members also pointed out the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected the Department of Energy’s motion to withdraw the Yucca Mountain license application and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet weighed in on this decision. In addition, litigation contesting the shutdown is pending in federal court.
“I am greatly concerned by the NRC Chairman’s decision to unilaterally shut down the Yucca Mountain license application over the concern of other Commissioners and Congress,” said Simpson. “The NRC is an independent apolitical regulatory agency, and the fact that it is ignoring sound science and strong Congressional support in favor of partisan politics is very concerning.”
Currently, the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution based on the Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations levels. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko has been quoted as saying that he is moving the agency to close down licensing activities based on the guidance of the Administration’s FY2011 proposed budget. The Fiscal Year 2011 budget has not been approved by Congress and the President’s budget proposal does not have the force of law.
The Congressmen also requested a detailed explanation from the Office of Management and Budget outlining the legal budgetary authority of Chairman Jaczko to shut down the Yucca Mountain review and terminate the project.
A copy of the letter is attached.