House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said there is bipartisan support in Congress to move forward with the nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain, noting that lawmakers could reaffirm that decision in a vote this summer.
Upton, speaking at The Bloggers Briefing this afternoon, criticized the actions of Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, whose opposition to the Yucca Mountain project was the subject of a harsh inspector general report earlier this month.
“I’m convinced there is bipartisan support for Yucca and I suspect we’ll have a vote on that in some shape or form when the appropriations bill comes up this summer,” Upton said today at Heritage. “Based on the reaction of my colleagues — Republican and Democrat — they’ve not been too happy about the way [Chairman Jaczko] proceeded as it relates to the movement down the line of waste going into Yucca.”
The House Appropriations Committee has already approved a bill that would provide $35 million for the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository in fiscal 2012. Upton expects it to be included in the legislation that reaches the House floor.
Upton’s work on Yucca Mountain spans 20 years, dating to his first term in Congress while serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He was originally tasked with building bipartisan support for Yucca — support that he believes remains, despite the actions of the Obama administration to derail the project.
Prior to joining the NRC, Jaczko worked as a policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), an ardent critic of Yucca Mountain. Jaczko’s refusal to release information about the project — including two safety evaluation reports eventually obtained by Heritage from a Freedom of Information Act request — prompted rebukes from lawmakers and even NRC colleagues.
Upton will press for additional information Friday when the Energy and Commerce Committee convenes a hearing with NRC staff on the Yucca license review process. The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.