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).
I am very pleased the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 today to approve the nations’ first nuclear reactor construction permits in more than three decades.
This is a major step on the road to a nuclear renaissance in the United States. NRC approvals will allow us to move forward as a nation in building new reactors for the first time in more than 30 years. When it comes to the development of nuclear power, America has been sleeping like Rip Van Winkle, plus another ten years.Now that Southern Company has gotten the green light for the new Vogtle facility, I am hopeful SCANA and Santee Cooper will be the next in line to receive permits for Jenkinsville. I will continue to do everything in my power to keep the next generation of nuclear power on track and moving forward in the United States.
Today, I joined 43 Senators in sponsoring legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to providing stable oil supplies, Keystone XL is also expected to create approximately 130,000 jobs.
The Obama Administration’s decision to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was irresponsible. Keystone XL will create thousands of jobs in the United States and also help reduce our dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.
The legislation approves Keystone XL under Congress’s authority enumerated in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.
Under the legislation, TransCanada will be authorized to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The bill allows the company to move forward with construction of the pipeline in the United States while the state of Nebraska works to determine an alternative route. When completed, the pipeline will transport an additional 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries.
The construction and operation of Keystone XL is an economic and energy must-do for the United States. I am pleased to support this effort and am hopeful it will pass the Congress in a strong, bipartisan vote.
I am deeply disappointed in President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Today’s decision ensures that we will continue to be dependent on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela indefinitely. Today the President not only rejected the pipeline, but he rejected the thousands of “shovel-ready” jobs that come along with the pipeline’s construction.
Canada will continue to develop the oil sands, only instead of selling us the oil, they will send it to China.
The benefits of the pipeline are clear. Well over 1,000 American companies supply goods and services to Canadian oil sands and pipeline companies and the ripple effects are creating employment in numerous other industries. Keystone XL is expected to create 20,000 direct jobs during construction and 118,000 indirect and spinoff jobs. It will also contribute $20 billion of economic stimulus to the United States during construction. Every state will benefit economically from this activity.Beginning the construction of the Keystone pipeline while Nebraska decides on routing is the smart decision. Construction should begin without further delay.
I am pleased the Department of Energy has reversed course and agreed to allow the H-Canyon at Savannah River Site to be used to produce approximately 3.7 metric tons of plutonium oxide feedstock for the MOX facility. In President Obama’s budget submission to Congress earlier this year the Administration had proposed putting the canyon in ‘cold standby,’ likely rendering it inoperable for future use.
I have worked very closely with the Savannah River Site, the Department of Energy, and NNSA to reverse this decision and guarantee future work for H-canyon.
Allowing H-Canyon to produce the initial feedstock for MOX is most welcome news. I’m pleased they have recognized the versatility of this unique asset. The use of H-Canyon will begin the process of converting weapons grade plutonium into nuclear fuel and setting a pathway for the material to ultimately leave South Carolina. As a long-time supporter of MOX, I believe it is the ultimate example of turning swords into plowshares.
The Savannah River Site’s H and F canyons played an important role in our nation’s nuclear weapons complex. Constructed in the 1950s, the versatility of the canyons were shown through their work in manufacturing components of nuclear weapons, fuel for our NASA missions, and most recently through H-canyon’s conversion of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) into commercial nuclear fuel.
After the Cold War ended, the Department of Energy decided that they did not need two canyons and closed down F-canyon. This left H-canyon as the only facility in the country that could perform critical separations work.
Despite the canyon’s age, it still remains one of the backbones of SRS. There is a significant amount of research reactor fuel and other nuclear material that needs to be processed through the canyon. The canyon can also play an important role in developing the next generation of spent fuel recycling.
By providing feedstock for MOX, H-canyon will continue in its historical national security work. It should also not preclude other work from happening in the canyon. There remains room to work on spent fuel recycling and other important missions. I look forward to continuing to work with the site, the community, and the Department of Energy as we move forward.
EPA regulation of carbon is the worst possible outcome and a disaster in the making. The EPA will put burdens on consumers and businesses they cannot handle. It has long been clear to me that elected representatives should write the rules, not the EPA. I believe it is a noble endeavor for our country to pursue the cleanest air and purest water in the world. But the worst way to pursue those objectives is through heavy-handed EPA regulation.
(This letter from Senator Graham was sent on Saturday to business, military, religious and conservation leaders on energy independence legislation.)
I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success.