CRAMER ANNOUNCES PASSAGE OF LANDMARK NUCLEAR WASTE LEGISLATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer, a cosponsor of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, commended the passage of today’s long overdue reform to nuclear waste policy. The bill passed with overwhelming support by the House of Representatives with a 340 to 72 vote.
H.R. 3053 makes targeted reforms to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) to ensure the Federal government meets its nuclear waste management obligations. It also assists in the resolution of the pending Yucca Mountain license, allowing the process to determine if the repository can be approved and constructed.
Cramer said, “North Dakotans will benefit from this legislative fix through reduced utility bills and proper use of their tax dollars. By consolidating nuclear fuel into one safe and secure location, we can avoid waste from being dispersed all over the country. Yucca Mountain has been studied extensively over the years and remains the best location for nuclear waste disposal when considering all the factors. I hope the Senate quickly passes this bill to ensure one more step to securing low cost, baseload electric generation.”
The NWPA was enacted over 30 years ago in 1982 to establish a comprehensive nuclear waste management strategy, and designate the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to dispose of used fuel. With more than $40 billion already paid to the DOE by electricity ratepayers, waste material remains scattered. Xcel Energy in North Dakota, serving 94,000 electricity customers throughout Fargo, Grand Forks, and Minot, operates Prairie Island and Monticello nuclear generating plants in Minnesota. Xcel has experienced direct conflict with the DOE for the storage of nuclear fuel.
Xcel Energy has made approximately $452 million in payments to the federal government for permanent nuclear waste disposal of which North Dakota ratepayers accounted for about $22 million. Xcel’s CEO Ben Fowke contacted Cramer’s office in support of this legislation noting it, “finally opens a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain and to advance privately-owned Consolidated Interim Storage sites.”
During Cramer’s time on the Public Service Commission (PSC), Xcel reached a settlement with the federal government after years of litigation to recover damages associated with the DOE’s failure to take title to, transport, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel. The PSC ordered the first settlement payment of nearly $4.7 million from the DOE as a one-time bill credit to North Dakota ratepayers in 2012.
To date, Xcel Energy has received eight payments from taxpayers at the hand of the DOE to ultimately reduce customer bills in North Dakota by nearly $13 million, either in the form of a one-time bill credit or a cost reduction in an annual base rate increase. The ninth payment under this extension is expected to be received in late 2018 for damages in 2017, with the subsequent payments following a similar schedule. American taxpayers will continue to be liable for more than $2 million a day in legal damages under the status quo.
Cramer has also called for House leaders to appropriate the necessary funding for nuclear waste disposal in both the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 omnibus and FY19 appropriations legislation currently underway to prioritize our nation’s obligation to permanently dispose of spent fuel and defense nuclear waste.