WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), one of the strongest supporters of nuclear energy in the Senate, has introduced legislation, The Nuclear Waste Fund Relief and Rebate Act.
Electric utilities have been paying into the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund to construct and operate a permanent federal nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The utilities have been charging their costumers a monthly fee in each electricity bill to make these payments. According to the latest information, South Carolina residents alone have already contributed more than $1.3 billion to the fund, which has collected a total of more than $35 billion in fees.
The legislation introduced by Graham would rebate these monies back to electric utilities and consumers. Seventy-five percent of the amount rebated to utilities would be returned to their customers and the remaining portion will be used to make upgrades to on-site storage facilities.
Additionally, the legislation authorizes payments to states currently housing defense nuclear waste scheduled to be transferred to Yucca Mountain. These payments begin in 2017, the date in which Yucca Mountain was to set to receive shipments of defense nuclear waste.
“No one should be required to pay for an empty hole in the Nevada desert,” said Graham. “The decision by the Obama Administration to close Yucca Mountain was ill-advised and leaves our nation without a disposal plan for spent nuclear fuel or Cold War waste. It was a political, not scientific, decision. It is incumbent on the Administration to come up with a disposal plan for this real problem facing our nation.”
The major provisions of the Graham legislation include:
“Our nation needs real options as a result of the uncertainty created by the Obama Administration’s change in policy,” said Graham. “I will push this legislation forward and hope to have the full Senate on-the-record on this important issue.”
Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), John McCain (R-Arizona), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin).