Lawmakers issue protest on Yucca decision

Nearly 100 lawmakers, mostly Republicans, are urging Energy Secretary Steven Chu to stop moving forward on shuttering the nuclear waste repository site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The Obama administration has yanked funding for the project, which has been in the works for more than two decades, and let go employees who worked at the site.

In a harshly worded letter sent Tuesday, the lawmakers -- led by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. -- assert that the Energy Department is violating the Nuclear Waste Repository Policy Act, which in 1987 designated Yucca Mountain as the only option for the nation's nuclear waste repository site.

Earlier this year, the states of Washington and South Carolina filed suit in a federal court questioning whether the administration has the right to halt the project. Both these states already house nuclear waste that they had thought would be shipped to Yucca Mountain. The majorities of both state's delegations signed onto the letter.

"We are deeply disappointed that DOE has overstepped its bounds and has ignored congressional intent without peer review or proper scientific documentation in its actions regarding Yucca Mountain," the lawmakers wrote.

Last week, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission board ruling found that the administration did not have the legal right to withdraw its license for the project without congressional approval. The lawmakers are calling on Chu to stop all actions "at least until legal action regarding the withdrawal of the application is resolved by the D.C. Circuit Court and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," the letter stated.

Of the letter's 91 signatures, 24 are senators, including two Democrats: Murray and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Republican senators who signed onto the letter include Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.

These senators are potential supporters of climate and energy legislation that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is hoping to bring to the floor in July.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.