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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, announced that she will introduce an amendment on Thursday to reinstate funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.  Senator Murray’s amendment would add $200 million to continue the licensing application process for Yucca Mountain.  The $200 million would be offset by an across-the-board reduction in the Department of Energy. 

Murray has been clear that she opposes the Obama Administration’s decision to unilaterally remove Yucca Mountain from consideration as a national nuclear repository (Read more on Senator Murray’s work). Murray announced her intentions at today’s mark up of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the amendment on Thursday.

Senator Murray’s comments on the amendment at today’s mark up, which were submitted in their entirety for the record, appear below:

Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Bennett thank you for all of your work on this bill, which is so important.

This bill funds so many of our nation’s priorities – from developing new, clean sources of energy, to maintaining our water infrastructure, and to fulfilling the federal government’s legal obligation to clean up its nuclear waste legacy.

And I appreciate your work in this very difficult budget climate. But there is one thing that I’m very disappointed in – and that is the lack of funding for Yucca Mountain.

I believe the Obama Administration made a serious mistake when it zeroed out funding for Yucca Mountain.

Over the last 30 years, independent studies, Congress and previous administrations have all pointed to, voted for and funded Yucca Mountain as the nation’s best option for a nuclear repository. And in concert with those decisions, billions of dollars and countless work hours have been spent at Hanford Nuclear Reservation in my home state and at nuclear waste sites across the country in an effort to treat and package nuclear waste that will be sent there.
And now the Obama Administration has said that Yucca isn’t a “workable option.” Well, I’m not sure what that means. But back in March, at this Subcommittee’s budget hearing, when I asked Secretary Chu about the scientific process that DOE used in making this decision, he couldn’t give me an answer.

Since the Administration has submitted its budget request to Congress, it has also entered a motion to withdraw its license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

And you know what? The NRC at the end of last month denied DOE’s motion, saying that DOE did not have the authority to unilaterally terminate Yucca Mountain. And Congress is still on the record as having reaffirmed Yucca Mountain as the nation’s best option for a national repository. And yet the bill we are considering today follows the President’s budget request – and eliminates funding for Yucca Mountain.

Mr. Chairman, I’m really disappointed about this, and I plan to offer an amendment at full committee markup on Thursday to include funding for Yucca Mountain.

Again, I appreciate all of your good work on this important bill. But without a national repository, Hanford and the nation’s other nuclear waste cleanup sites – and the communities that support them – have been left in limbo.

I look forward to correcting that on Thursday.