The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday the Obama administration has assured him it will seek to eliminate funding for a review needed to open a nuclear waste repository below Nevada's Yucca Mountain.
The money for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission effort would be eliminated for fiscal year 2011. The loss of the money would sap the agency of the resources necessary to review an Energy Department application seeking approval to build the repository.
President Barack Obama opposes the use of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump. Still, the law requiring that waste be stored at the site remains on the books, so the project could in theory be revived.
The construction of a nuclear waste repository in Nevada is extremely unpopular with voters there and the state's lawmakers are eager to trumpet any progress they make in killing the project.
"This is a major victory for Nevada," said Reid, a Democrat who is up for re-election next year. "I am pleased that President Obama has lived up to his promise to me and all Nevadans by working with me to kill the Yucca Mountain project."
Energy Department officials have said it's the administration's policy that Yucca Mountain would never be used. Still, there is scientific value in continuing to attempt to license the site. Some opponents of the site have been uncomfortable with that stance because they fear it could keep the project around for future administrations to jump-start.
The Obama administration has said it will appoint a commission to find alternatives to Yucca Mountain. Reid said there's time to come up with some.
"I'm convinced thatfor the foreseeable future, for the next 50 to 100 years, we'll simply store the spent fuel rods on site. You don't have to worry about transportation because that's where it gets dangerous," Reid told reporters.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to cut funding for the NRC's review to $29 million in 2010. The president had requested $56 million.