Manchin Commits To Working With Cortez Masto On Nuclear Waste Storage Proposals

June 27, 2019

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning click here

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to examine options for the interim and long-term storage of nuclear waste and to consider S. 1234, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, committed to work with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as the Nuclear Waste Administration Act proceeds.

“I think finding a solution to our nation’s nuclear waste impasse is critically important and I think you’ve all brought so much expertise to the table and I appreciate it very much. Instead of asking a question right now at the beginning of my time, I’m going to ask Senator Cortez-Masto, since she’s been leading this effort and has more skin in the game than any of us sitting here ... for her to explain a little bit what she’s trying to change right now and how we can be of help,” Senator Manchin said.

“Thank you, Ranking Member Manchin for this opportunity I know it’s rare. Chairman Murkowski, let me just say the recommendations provided by the Blue Ribbon Commission, I believe do provide a blueprint to follow particularly when employing a consent based method selection. What I’m simply asking is that the state of Nevada be included in this framework of this legislation to act equally and fairly along all states, that’s all we’re asking. And I would like to ask you, Ranking Member Manchin, to work with me as this bill proceeds,” Senator Cortez Masto said.

“You have my assurance on that. And all of you all have expressed in your opening statements that the site selection has to have a buy in so that the states can either say ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’ And I think that’s important,” Senator Manchin said. 

Senator Manchin also stressed the important role nuclear energy technology can play in reducing our nation’s carbon emissions. 

“Nuclear Energy will continue to be an important part of our nation’s energy mix. Its reliability, especially in adverse weather, and the fact it is the nation’s largest zero-emission power source means that it is a powerful tool in our fight to mitigate climate change and move towards a zero emissions economy. We will continue to rely on nuclear thus we must work on a solution to dispose of nuclear waste,” Senator Manchin said. 

Senator Manchin questioned Associate Laboratory Director at the Idaho National Laboratory Dr. John Wagner about the urgency of creating policy pertaining to nuclear waste. 

“I would assume if you’re able to store this waste safely, there are not instances and there is no urgency, and Congress has drug it’s feet for 30 years for that reason. It has not become a critical problem. Would you all consider this storage as safe?” Senator Manchin asked.

“That’s exactly right. It has continued to be safely stored, securely stored. The public is not at a threat. That is a bit crux of the problem: we don’t have a crisis per say, in terms of safety and security. The utility and the private sector have done an outstanding job in terms of safety and security,” Dr. Wagner said.  

The hearing also featured testimony from representatives from Nuclear Energy Institute, American Nuclear Society Nuclear Waste Policy Task Force, and Yankee Atomic Electric Company. To read their testimonies click here.

To watch the hearing in full click here.