"The Commission presented us with 8 clear, concise, and straightforward recommendations. I have tried to implement those recommendations in the bill that is now before us for this hearing. I worked closely with Senator Murkowski and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Feinstein and Senator Alexander, in the effort. Regrettably, we were not as successful as the Blue Ribbon Commission was in reaching a unanimous, bipartisan consensus. Although we were able to agree on most issues, we could not reach an agreement on the siting process for storage facilities and how to ensure that temporary storage facilities do not become permanent substitutes for an underground repository. With time running out in this Congress, we agreed that I should go ahead and introduce the bill as it stands, and hold this hearing on the bill, and leave it to the next Congress to continue working on the issue.
Senator Murkowski, in her opening statement said, "While I have been skeptical regarding the need to delay progress on resolving these issues while the Blue Ribbon Commission deliberated, the Blue Ribbon Commission itself is a credible group that has produced a thoughtful report regarding how to move our Nation's spent nuclear fuel program forward. Although there may be little that is truly new in their proposals, I am optimistic that the report has ignited a heightened sense of urgency and renewed focus on these issues. As the commission's report notes, the government's failure to address our nuclear waste issues is damaging to the development of future nuclear power and simultaneously worsening our nation's financial situation. We need to act, and we need to act soon.
"Mr. Chairman, the legislation that you introduced is indicative of months of good, productive discussions between you, Senator Feinstein, Senator Alexander, and myself discussing ways to address the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. I congratulate you for moving the discussion forward and putting a marker out there toward reaching that goal. While we ultimately could not bridge the issue of linking progress on interim storage and a permanent repository, I want to be clear to those following these discussions that while prospects for legislative enactment this Congress are not favorable, we will continue the effort next year and build upon the progress that the Chairman has begun.
"I will also note that the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill contains language that seeks to move interim storage forward in a timely manner. While a short-term continuing resolution appears likely to be agreed to in the next several days, I am hopeful that the interim storage language will be included when Congress acts on the full Fiscal Year 2013 spending bills. In addition, we would be remiss if we did not examine the impact of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia's remand of the NRC's Waste Confidence Decision on new license applications and license renewals and how legislation along the lines of S.3469 could help address the Court's concerns."
The BRC Co-chair Scowcroft outlined the 8 recommendations of the Commission:
- A new, consent-based approach to siting future nuclear waste management facilities.
- A new organization dedicated solely to implementing the waste management program and empowered with the authority and resources to succeed.
- Access to the funds nuclear utility ratepayers are providing for the purpose of nuclear waste management.
- Prompt efforts to develop one or more geologic disposal facilities.
- Prompt efforts to develop one or more consolidated storage facilities.
- Prompt efforts to prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste to consolidated storage and disposal facilities when such facilities become available.
- Support for advances in nuclear energy technology and for workforce development; and
- Active U.S. leadership in international efforts to address safety, non-proliferation, and security concerns.
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