WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) — The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is urging the Obama administration to reconsider its controversial decision to withdraw its Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository license.
NARUC Tuesday filed a petition with the Department of Energy contesting the administration’s decision, asking to have a say in the administrative proceedings before the Department of Energy’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.
The regulators said the dismissal of the Yucca Mountain application will significantly undermine the government’s ability to fulfill its outstanding obligation to dispose of the nuclear waste.
“Dismissal at this late stage, in the absence of any rational explanation or record-based findings to justify it, is an incredible waste of the billions in rate-payer dollars spent on the licensing proceeding to date,” the commissioners said in the filing.
They warned that rate-payers across the nation would foot the bill and the decision “will effectively delay DOE’s ability to finally begin to accept waste for at least 25 years.”
In a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu earlier this month, NARUC said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “must have the opportunity to evaluate the application in full.”
The DOE wasn’t immediately able to comment.
The legal petition is another complication in the long-running political scrap over the nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D., Nev.), have fought to halt the multi-billion dollar project. With the project suffering from years of delay, billions in liabilities and a raft of legal challenges, many in the nuclear industry say the license withdrawal adds another dimension to the uncertainty plaguing the sector.
Republicans, including former Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, (R., Ariz.) say the White House’s decision was purely political. In hearings on Capitol Hill, Chu has been pressured to present the scientific basis legally required for the administrative withdrawal. Chu didn’t provide lawmakers with the scientific basis for the administration’s decision.
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