Republican News

Republican News

Good Morning, I would like to welcome everyone this morning to this subcommittee’s second hearing on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
 
I would like to thank everyone for coming today despite the fact that there have been four hearings this week all focused on our national spent nuclear fuel strategy.  I believe by the end of this week everything that can be said, will be said about nuclear waste management.
 
The combination of the GNEP strategy and this subcommittee’s proposal on interim storage introduced this summer has renewed interest in the federal government’s nuclear waste plan.  I understand the House held two hearings yesterday and the Senate EPW committee is holding its own hearing today on GNEP and our CAP proposal as well.  
 
I am pleased this subcommittee has forced others to look carefully at how we are addressing this complex matter.  Today, there are three policy options that must be considered.
 
Short term -- We have the Energy and Water proposal requiring that the federal government fulfill its legal obligation to take waste stored at 60 reactor sites, until Yucca Mountain or a spent fuel recycling facility is ready.
 
Medium term – GNEP provides the best solution to reuse valuable uranium through recycling and to significantly reduce the amount and toxicity of spent fuel.
 
Long term – Yucca Mountain must be ready to store our defense waste and spent nuclear fuel, hopefully after the fuel has been recycled.
 
At this hearing, I want to follow up on the Department’s evolving strategy to address spent nuclear fuel and determine the level of coordination between GNEP and the Yucca Mountain program. 
 
One month ago, the Department undertook several solicitations to begin the site selection process and to determine the level of interest in developing the Consolidation Fuel Treatment Facility and an advanced burner reactor. 
 
This move to a commercial facility is a major departure from the Department’s original R&D roadmap in February of this year and has the potential to significantly accelerate the deployment of recycling technology and bring it more in line with the plan for Yucca Mountain.
 
Accelerating the process will certainly change the selection of technologies, and I need to be assured the Department is making a sound decision regarding nonproliferation.
 
We also need to be assured that the Department has the technical capability to fully realize the GNEP goals of closing the fuel cycle and significantly reducing the amount of spent fuel.  I think we need to know more about integrating advanced reactors into the process and having a frank discussion about the Department’s technical capacity to develop high quality actinide fuel.
 
Secretary Spurgeon, I understand the Department received over a dozen responses to your recent site selection RFP.  That is very encouraging, and I look forward to learning more about this.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are at a crossroads in our national energy policy.  Building on the success of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, we can choose to make the investments in developing diversified energy resources, or we can choose to maintain the status quo.
 
With regard to nuclear power, the provisions in EPACT which encourage development of new nuclear plants are having a positive effect.  Already, 12 utilities or consortia are preparing at least 19 applications for as many as 30 new reactors. 
 
In addition, 50 percent of the existing reactor fleet will receive 20-year license renewals.  The existing nuclear fleet provides the cheapest source of power other than hydroelectric, and like hydro, does not contribute to greenhouse emissions.
 
Therefore, it is clear to me that our nuclear strategy must not only address new plants, but must solve the waste problem as well.
 
Let me be clear, I believe it was a mistake to abandon nuclear fuel recycling in 1976, and clearly our so-called leadership did not make a bit of difference as other countries decided to develop the process without us.
 
I support GNEP as a responsible solution to addressing our spent fuel needs.  I also believe this strategy must be closely aligned with the development of Yucca.  In the near-term, I would hope the federal government lives up to its commitment under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and begins to take responsibility for waste stored at reactor sites nationwide. 
 
Today we will hear from four witnesses with vast experience in the world of nuclear power to determine if the Department is on the right path with GNEP.