(House of Representatives - March 05, 2018)

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[Pages H1357-H1363]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Marshall). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by yielding to the 
chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Mr. Walden.
  Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman of the 
Environment Subcommittee, my friend, Mr. Shimkus, who has worked 
tirelessly--not just this year, not just last year, but probably since 
the first year he came to Congress--to try and find a permanent 
solution to the storage of nuclear waste in America. He has been a 
tireless worker in this endeavor, a smart worker in this endeavor, and 
a successful, so far, worker in this endeavor, as this bill passed out 
of the committee 49-4.
  I rise tonight to address this pressing national need, and that is 
the importance of fixing our broken nuclear waste management program.
  It was more than 35 years ago that the United States Congress made a 
commitment to communities throughout our Nation which host spent 
nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. Congress, the Federal Government, 
agreed to assign the Department of Energy with the responsibility to 
permanently dispose of hazardous material, nuclear waste, by 1998.
  There are many of those communities, like in the Tri-Cities in 
Washington State, co-located with the Department of Energy's Hanford 
site just up Columbia River, across the river from where I live and the 
people I represent. We have been DOE's partner to help win World War II 
at that site. It has maintained a nuclear weapon deterrent and powered 
our fleet of nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
  Additionally, electricity consumers in many other communities have 
paid the Federal Government more than $40 billion to develop, license, 
construct, and operate a nuclear waste repository. They have already 
paid $40 billion to do this, and that was pursuant to the Nuclear Waste 
Policy Act, the law that Congress enacted. Yet rate payers have little 
to see for their investment because, I will call it political science, 
has deprived the public of the actual science to prove that nuclear 
waste can be safely and permanently disposed of.
  As a consequence of this political interference, taxpayers and rate 
payers across the country are on the hook for DOE's inaction. The 
American people pay over $2 million every day to temporarily store used 
fuel scattered throughout the United States. So it is up to us to fix 
this waste management program and stop this cost that will continue in 
perpetuity if we don't act.
  Now, after hearing from dozens of expert witnesses over many years, 
the Energy and Commerce Committee developed and passed a bipartisan 
bill by a vote of 49-4. Mr. Shimkus led our effort in this measure.
  This legislation makes targeted reforms to the Nuclear Waste Policy 
Act of 1982 to set the Federal Government up to finally, finally, keep 
its promise.
  Nuclear waste challenges have vexed policymakers for generations.
  We, this Congress, have the chance now in a bipartisan way to 
successfully build a durable solution. I look forward to working with 
my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve that goal, which 
brings about tonight's Special Order.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, I just want to show something. This is a piece of 
glass. This is not actually nuclear waste. The Pacific Northwest 
National Lab, when I visited Hanford a little while back with Secretary 
Perry, gave me this because it is an example of what the liquid waste, 
the waste at Hanford, will end up being.

                              {time}  1930

  It will look like this in a big cylinder. It is glass. This is what 
would go to Hanford, and it would be stored safely when that occurs.
  If we don't have a repository, these nuclear wastes, in their various 
forms, will sit around in various locations, not nearly as safe or 
secure as we can have with the kind of legislation fully enacted that 
Mr. Shimkus has led on. So I thank Mr. Shimkus for his leadership on 
this. And I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their 
encouragement, their participation, their counsel. We are going to get 
this thing done.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my chairman, the gentleman from 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to my colleague, the gentleman from Tennessee 
(Mr. Fleischmann), who has actually been a pretty big leader in this 
issue because of Oak Ridge and the area that he represents.
  Mr. FLEISCHMANN. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor to be before the House 
of Representatives this evening, and I want to thank Chairman Shimkus.
  When I came to Congress in 2011, I didn't know many people, and one 
night I had the privilege of meeting  John Shimkus from the great State 
of Illinois. I told him I was from Tennessee, and we started talking. 
And right away we talked about Yucca Mountain. We talked about nuclear 
waste, and I told him that I was going to be representing a very 
special place: Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
  So let me start by thanking Chairman  John Shimkus. He has been the 
hero for the Yucca Mountain project. He has worked tirelessly. He has 
seen this through the courts. He has seen it through the House. He has 
worked so hard. I thank him for his efforts.
  Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it is a beautiful place. I represent the Third 
District of Tennessee: Oak Ridge, where we had the Manhattan Project, 
where we won World War II; Oak Ridge, where we won the Cold War; Oak 
Ridge, where we have worked tirelessly to build our Nation's nuclear 
arsenal, and today we are still advocating to do that, to keep America 
strong--great men and women.
  But Oak Ridge, like many other places around the Nation--Savannah 
River, Portsmouth, Hanford--years ago, ladies and gentlemen, when we 
manufactured our nuclear weapons, we were not as safe and secure as we 
are today. There was an immediacy. There was a need during World War II 
to get the bomb built, and we did it in Oak Ridge, and it ended World 
War II.
  But for years thereafter, we were not as safe at many of these 
venues. What does that mean? That means that legacy wastes were left in 
communities: sometimes in the soil, sometimes in the water, sometimes 
in facilities. And what that means is that the Federal Government has a 
duty to these communities to clean this waste up. And this waste has to 
go somewhere.
  Now, Chairman Shimkus, and we have heard from Chairman Walden--for 
those of you who are listening tonight, they are authorizers. They 
authorize the law. I sit on the Appropriations Committee. That is the 
committee in Congress that authorizes the spending for this.
  I am the chairman of the Nuclear Cleanup Caucus. That is how 
passionate I am about cleaning up nuclear waste not only in Oak Ridge, 
Tennessee; Savannah River; or Hanford, but all over these great United 
States, because we owe this to the American people.
  The Federal Government caused this problem; the Federal Government 
needs to clean this up. It is the ultimate, I think, in environmental 
advocacy. This is something that Republicans and Democrats, Members of 
the House and Members of the Senate, usually agree upon; and we have 
worked together in this very important caucus.
  Why is it important that we pass the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments 
Act of 2017? Because, first of all, we owe it to the American people. 
The Department of Energy does a good job in cleanup, but this will 
revise their programs. It will give what Congress

[[Page H1358]]

should do, give direction to a Federal agency. So, as we advocate for 
dollars to clean up the nuclear waste, we need this key authorization 
bill to give it structure, to give it purpose.
  So, in the end, Yucca is critically important--critically important. 
And I know the people in these affected communities want Yucca 
Mountain. That is the interesting thing about it. They want it because 
they realize it is critically important that we store the waste there: 
it is important for America; it is important for our environment; it is 
important to these communities; and it is long overdue.
  So I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to please work to 
support H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, and 
I thank Chairman Shimkus.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Tennessee for his 
comments, and I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Lewis).
  Mr. LEWIS of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Shimkus, as 
well, for continuing to bring light to the broken promise the Federal 
Government made to our communities.
  The State of Minnesota is home to three nuclear reactors, two of 
which are at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in my 
district. Located directly adjacent to the Prairie Island Indian 
Reservation and the city of Red Wing, the plant has stored spent 
nuclear fuel on site since the 1970s. While this is done in a very safe 
and highly secure manner, storage in close proximity to large 
communities is simply not appropriate.
  In 1982, Congress agreed and made it clear that they wanted the 
Federal Government to oversee and manage the storage of spent fuel. 
Congress did not want to put the burden and oversight of maintaining 
safe nuclear storage on our local communities. The Nuclear Waste Policy 
Act was adopted, and the Federal Government was tasked with creating a 
national Federal repository for used fuel.
  The Federal Government began collecting taxes on all users of nuclear 
power. In the end, my constituents, businesses, and Americans 
throughout the country have paid roughly $40 billion in taxes and 
  In 1995, due to the inaction at the Federal level the plant in my 
district was forced to take matters into their own hands. While they 
continued to help fund a repository, they also invested in and began 
operating a dry cask storage area, a pad on site that could hold up to 
48 casks of fuel.

  Now, that should have been more than enough to cover their needs 
until the Federal Government finished their job. Today, Prairie Island 
is home to 40 casks, with 7 more expected to be filled by 2020.
  Thirty-six years after the passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 
we still have no repository. Prairie Island now has to go through the 
process of planning to expand their dry cask facilities in order to 
accommodate fuel they paid the Federal Government to dispose of.
  So I strongly support the efforts of Chairman Shimkus, and that is 
why I cosponsored the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017. We 
owe it to our communities to follow through on our promise to provide a 
safe place for storage.
  Meanwhile, it isn't just our local communities that are impacted by 
this inaction. When Congress passed a budget last year, I worked to 
point out that the Federal Government had assumed major liabilities 
associated with its failure to provide safe and environmentally 
friendly storage. The GAO recently reported that the Federal 
Government's environmental liability alone is nearly $450 billion and 
  At the same time, the funds collected from taxpayers to open a 
repository have begun being diverted to other payout settlements and 
judgments based on our broken promise. By the end of fiscal year 2016, 
$6.1 billion had been paid out, with the Department of Energy 
estimating another $25 billion to follow.
  It is time to keep our promise. Our communities expect it, and the 
Federal Government cannot afford not to do so. Mr. Speaker, I strongly 
urge passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Minnesota and 
appreciate him spending this evening with us.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Weber).
  Mr. WEBER of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening in support of America's nuclear 
energy industry. Today, America leads the world in nuclear energy 
production and technological advancement. However, the industry faces 
unique challenges that prevent us from reaching our full potential when 
it comes to nuclear energy.
  So I thank Mr. Shimkus for hosting this Special Order which gives us 
a chance to shed light on some of these issues.
  Over in the Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Energy 
Subcommittee, we talk a lot about nuclear energy R&D as critical for 
the United States' national security and energy dominance. Through our 
numerous meetings over the course of several years, we have put forth 
multiple bills which will implement long-term R&D investments that will 
spur American competitiveness and keep us at the forefront of nuclear 
energy technology. We will need waste sites.
  My bill, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act, actually 
provides important policy direction for the Department of Energy Office 
of Nuclear Energy. First, it provides DOE with statutory directions to 
leverage its supercomputing infrastructure for modeling and simulation 
capabilities to develop advanced fission and fusion reactors. Second, 
this legislation provides DOE with statutory direction to use its 
authority to enable the national labs to partner with the private 
sector to construct and operate reactor prototypes at DOE sites and to 
leverage expertise from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  Because nuclear reactors are so expensive and so highly regulated, 
designing first-of-a-kind reactors requires a blend of creative freedom 
for engineers testing new designs but assurance of safety throughout 
that process. DOE sites, particularly the DOE national laboratories, 
can provide a unique environment that safely allows for this kind of 
creative testing and development for advanced nuclear technology.
  Finally, the bill lays out a clear timeline and statutory guidance 
for DOE to complete a research reactor that will allow for materials 
and fuels R&D to take place right here in the United States. Currently, 
this type of research, which requires access to fast neutrons, is only 
accessible for civilian use in Russia. While modeling and simulation 
can accelerate R&D, this research must ultimately be validated through 
a physical source. The versatile neutron source in this bill will 
enable this vital research.
  Last month, my bill, which contains funding for this important 
research reactor, the Nuclear Energy Research Infrastructure Act, 
passed this House unanimously. While we at the Science Committee have 
been working hard on developing the infrastructure for nuclear research 
and development, I am thankful Mr. Shimkus is finding a long-term 
solution to our current challenges with spent nuclear waste. His bill 
takes an important step forward in authorizing private and interim 
storage of spent nuclear fuel, while still allowing the Federal 
Government to responsibly develop a permanent repository for spent 
nuclear fuel.
  I applaud Mr. Shimkus and the Energy and Commerce Committee's 
bipartisan effort to find a productive, constructive answer to this 
pressing issue. Together, we will ensure that America's nuclear energy 
continues to lead the world.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Texas for his 
  Mr. Speaker, before I introduce the next speaker, I want to highlight 
that, in the days when people say we don't work together, there is no 
bipartisanship shown, I just want to remind folks that this bill came 
out of our committee 49-4. It has 108 cosponsors, many Democrats on 
  So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Carbajal), a new Member of Congress who has been very active and 
whom I have been proud to get to know.

  Mr. CARBAJAL. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Shimkus for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, 2 years ago, Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced 

[[Page H1359]]

decision not to relicense the two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon 
Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County. The plant has been a key 
economic engine in my district, employing around 1,500 people and 
powering more than 1.7 million homes in central and northern 
  As our community works together to mitigate the economic impacts of 
this closure, I am committed to helping secure the central coast's 
dominance as a hub for renewable energy development. That is why I am 
introducing legislation later this month that creates renewable energy 
incentives to offset the loss of jobs and revenue resulting from the 
Diablo Canyon closure.
  In addition to economic stability, our community also needs certainty 
of responsible management and safe storage of nuclear waste after the 
plant's closure. The Diablo Canyon Power Plant was built against a 
seaside cliff near Avila Beach, where it was discovered that its 
reactors are in proximity to earthquake fault lines. Without a long-
term solution, Diablo Canyon would become a de facto storage facility 
for radioactive nuclear waste and would hinder our ability to repurpose 
any of the scenic coastline where the power plant currently sits.
  Currently, spent nuclear fuel sits across 39 States in 121 
communities, including San Luis Obispo County.

                              {time}  1945

  We need a permanent geologic repository to store waste that will last 
far beyond our lifetimes. Congress must establish responsible interim 
storage solutions, while continuing to work towards establishing a safe 
and secure national repository for spent fuel.
  H.R. 3053 is a good bipartisan solution to establish a process and 
outline next steps for interim and permanent storage solutions. With 
the impending decommissioning of Diablo Canyon, it is vital that we act 
to find a storage solution. I will continue to work to grow business in 
our area, remove spent fuel safely, and keep our communities safe and 
thriving as the Diablo Canyon decommissioning moves forward.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague.
  So we have heard from Oregon, Tennessee, Minnesota, and then from 
California. Now I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Allen).
  Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his work on this 
important legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3053, 
the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act. Spent nuclear fuel currently 
sits in 121 communities across 39 States, simply because we lack a 
permanent geological repository to dispose of the waste. That is why I 
am proud to join my colleagues as a cosponsor of H.R. 3053, which would 
enact critical reforms to our nuclear waste management strategy.
  Back home, in Georgia's 12th, we are leading the way in the expansion 
of our Nation's nuclear energy resources. My district is the proud home 
of every nuclear reactor in the State, with an additional two reactors 
under construction at Plant Vogtle. Nuclear energy is Georgia's most 
reliable power source and provides over 6,000 high-skilled jobs, many 
of which are filled by my constituents in Georgia's 12th. But without a 
permanent solution, nuclear waste remains on those sites.
  Now is the time for Congress to act on fulfilling our obligation to 
dispose of the spent nuclear fuel sitting in our States. I thank the 
Energy and Commerce Committee for passing this important legislation, 
and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this important 
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. I 
now yield to the gentleman from the State of California (Mr. McNerney), 
a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, a good friend, also.
  Mr. McNERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Shimkus for yielding. We work 
together on nuclear waste. I have been to the Yucca Mountain site, and 
I have seen the work that has gone on there.
  But, first of all, I just want to say there are a lot of issues out 
there that we are dealing with here in Congress; so how important is 
nuclear waste? I mean, we have got the gun issue; we have climate 
change; we have the economy; we want to create jobs; trade. I mean, 
there are a lot of issues; so how important is nuclear waste? I mean, 
it has been festering for decades--for decades--so how urgent is it?
  You know, we haven't had a major accident yet, but there are tens of 
thousands of tons of high-level nuclear waste sitting in relatively 
exposed conditions, so what could possibly go wrong? I mean, high-level 
nuclear waste is so radioactive that it emits heat. It emits an immense 
amount of heat. So we could--I will give you a couple of things that 
could go wrong.
  The waste could be commandeered and then made into weapons. It 
doesn't have to be made into a nuclear fission bomb. It could be made 
into a dirty bomb. Just put a bunch of nuclear waste with explosive 
material in some city and that city would be uninhabitable for the rest 
of our lifetimes, for sure.
  There also could be waste leakage. We have nuclear waste sitting on 
the banks of the Missouri River. We have nuclear waste, tons and tons 
of nuclear waste, high-level nuclear waste, sitting a quarter mile from 
the Columbia River, and this is pretty serious stuff. And my friend 
from Illinois, my colleague from Illinois, I am sure, will tell us 
about nuclear waste that is on the Great Lakes ready to go. So we have 
a problem. We have been pretty darn lucky so far.
  You know, I worked as a graduate student. I was a graduate student in 
mathematics. I worked for an engineering professor to study the nuclear 
waste project at WIPP, a waste isolation pilot project near Carlsbad, 
New Mexico, and I can tell you the technical solutions are there. 
Nuclear waste can be safely engineered for tens of thousands of years, 
as long as it needs to be stored. Transportation can be done safely. I 
have seen train cars that are designed to hold high-level nuclear waste 
slammed into concrete walls with no damage to the interior of the car.
  This stuff can be done. It is not an engineering problem. I mean, the 
engineering and the geological solutions are there if we put our minds 
to making it happen. It can be done in engineering.
  However, nuclear waste is a political problem, and it hasn't been 
managed so far. The politics of the Yucca Mountain waste project were 
very badly managed from the very beginning. A successful nuclear waste 
storage project will need complete transparency from the very beginning 
with the local community. There will always be some amount of 
opposition, but without local buy-in, the project is going to fail. 
Local buy-in is absolutely essential. This can be done if there is 
complete transparency, if the local people understand what the risks 
are and what the benefits are. This can be done.
  Mr. Speaker, we need to devote the resources to finding a permanent 
solution to nuclear waste. Meanwhile, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste 
Policy Amendments Act of 2017 is a step, a very important step in the 
right direction.
  I want to thank my colleague from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) who has 
worked on this tirelessly for year after year. I know that some people 
think that he has gone too far in Nevada, but, nonetheless, if we work 
together and can become transparent, maybe Nevada will never accept 
nuclear waste, but we have to find a permanent storage solution that 
can be done. This is a step in the right direction, and I urge my 
colleagues to support H.R. 3053 and give this legislation fair and 
honest consideration.

  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his 
comments, and I will pull up a chart later on to show that the five 
surrounding counties have all passed resolutions in support of Yucca 
Mountain, and there are recent numbers from the northern part of the 
State that show a very positive movement as far as the acceptance, as 
long as we show there is a science. And now I will address that in a 
later discourse.
  I want to thank my colleague for joining us. I now yield to the 
gentleman from the State of Georgia (Mr. Carter), another member from 
the Energy and Commerce Committee.
  Mr. CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for 
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my good friend and chairman 
of the Subcommittee on Environment's legislation, the Nuclear Waste 
Policy Amendments Act of 2017.

[[Page H1360]]

  This legislation is important, not only because of what it means for 
the future of clean energy opportunities for this country, but also 
what this means for the safety of our communities. Nuclear energy has 
become a safe and effective way to generate large amounts of energy 
capability, while maintaining a source that doesn't produce greenhouse 
gas emissions.
  We have come a long ways from Three Mile Island and the safety 
standards in place to ensure our communities and our grid aren't 
negatively impacted by nuclear energy. The Nuclear Waste Policy 
Amendments Act would finally put in place a permanent repository for 
the waste generated by energy production that powers millions of homes 
and businesses across the United States.
  As of December, there were 61 nuclear power plants in the United 
States with 99 operating nuclear reactors. Those nuclear plants provide 
nearly 20 percent of the country's energy production capability. This 
is significant because these plants have continued to provide reliable 
flows of energy for decades, giving Americans a carbon-free source of 
energy to fuel their consumption.
  But one thing hasn't been addressed: what to do with that spent fuel. 
We began a process in the 1980s to seek and construct a permanent 
repository for the Nation's spent fuel, eventually coming to Yucca 
Mountain in Nevada. This site was decided upon, due to its geological 
features, and extensively studied to ensure it could be done in a safe 
and effective manner.
  Millions of dollars were spent studying and doing initial project 
development of the site, but it was eventually halted, and that 
progress was stalled. While this was going on, ratepayers in 39 States 
continued to pay towards the cleanup fund for a total of nearly $40 
billion. However, that money hasn't been able to be put towards a 
permanent repository due to resistance.
  In Georgia, at Plant Vogtle, we are currently undergoing the only 
nuclear energy construction project in the country, in large part 
because of issues that have deterred companies from wanting to expand. 
That means that people are losing out on energy production, and it 
actually creates clean energy.
  My good friend's legislation authorizes the disposal of spent nuclear 
fuel and high-level radioactive waste to find a safe, permanent place 
in contrast to the temporary locations at each nuclear plant. It also 
authorizes a consolidated interim storage site to ensure there is an 
option available for the eventual transition.
  This is something that needs to get done, and soon. Right now, spent 
fuel is sitting on site in either dry casks or spent fuel pools without 
an alternative. Now is the time for us to pass this bipartisan 
legislation and recognize that we have carbon-neutral energy sources in 
place, and have for decades, but we need to get this across the finish 
line to support our communities and our country.
  I urge my colleagues to support the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments 
Act because it will give the United States the chance to, once again, 
be a global leader on our nuclear energy and to secure our communities. 
I thank the gentleman for his leadership on this issue.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Georgia for his 
comments, and now I yield to the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. 
Courtney) for his strong work, his positive statements, and his 
reaching out so that we could have a national solution to a national 
  Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Shimkus for yielding. Again, I 
am here tonight to join a bunch of my colleagues to speak in strong 
support of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, 
which Mr. Shimkus has skillfully guided through the Energy and Commerce 
Committee, again, a 49-4 vote on a committee which basically is 
challenged, in many instances, with other issues from healthcare and 
energy policy, you name it.
  It is really just an amazing accomplishment on his part dealing with 
one of the thorniest, toughest issues, which, again, has been out there 
for 30 years, which is, again, how we, as a nation, deal with the tons 
of nuclear waste that is now piled up and accumulating in over 100 
communities around the country.
  Again, I represent the Second District of Connecticut, the eastern 
half of the State, which has two operating nuclear facilities. One has 
been decommissioned, the old Connecticut Yankee facility, which sits 
very close to the Connecticut River. Again, it has been closed for over 
a decade. The plant itself has been cut up, dismantled. It is now 
pretty much, you know, just overgrown with vegetation. But still 
sitting there is dry cask nuclear spent fuel rods, which, again, are 
being patrolled every single day, literally, as we are here tonight, by 
heavily armed guards, which makes perfect sense, because, as has been 
said by other speakers, again, this is still very dangerous material, 
and again, very close to one of the largest bodies of waters in new 
England, the Connecticut River.
  We also have the Dominion nuclear power plant in Waterford, 
Connecticut, which today is in full operation. Over 45 percent of the 
energy consumed in the State of Connecticut is generated at Dominion. 
It is about 15 percent of New England, because, again, it provides a 
supply for the rest of the region that is there, and again, this is a 
plant that goes back decades.

  We are also the home of the Groton sub base, which is a base where, 
again, we have 15 attack subs that are deployed there. Again, the 
Groton sub base was where the USS Nautilus was launched 62 years ago. 
Admiral Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, actually designed 
that first sub, which was christened by Mamie Eisenhower.
  Again, that sub was built 5 years after the first lightbulb was 
powered by nuclear power as a nation; again, a pretty amazing 
accomplishment that Admiral Rickover was able to build and launch a 
nuclear submarine, something which the folks at the Navy at the time 
told him wouldn't happen for 75 years. Yet, today, the nuclear force, 
both in terms of submarines and carriers, are the backbone, again, of 
our away team, the U.S. Navy.
  So, again, we have a lot of history and experience with the fact that 
we have got really smart capable people who do amazing things in terms 
of providing the energy needs but also the national security of this 
country. But, as has been said, again, a byproduct of that is that 
nuclear waste which we thought 30 years ago was going to be dealt with 
with the decision that Congress made to dispose of nuclear waste in a 
central facility in Nevada that, again, ratepayers have paid year in 
and year out, $40 billion, as was mentioned earlier, but today is still 
  So, again, Mr. Shimkus' effort, in terms of trying to not just 
restart the process but also to reform it, again, is such an 
extraordinary effort that really we, as a House, should really take 
advantage of and move on a bipartisan basis to enact.

                              {time}  2000

  This is not your father's Yucca Mountain bill that Mr. Shimkus got 
through. It made some changes for fairness in terms of ratepayers. It 
also created more transparency so that local stakeholders in Nevada 
will have an opportunity to really help make decisions and see and 
understand the technology that is being employed there.
  It also set up an interim process, which, again, if it is over 
decades, which it is still going to take, that we can at least start 
moving material out from these over 100 sites situated all across the 
country, which is so important in terms of reducing costs and reducing 
national security risk.
  His proposal, I think, deserves great support and, frankly, 
congratulations that he has been able to take this on.
  I would note that the country of Finland has actually started to move 
forward with their own waste disposal site, the Onkalo Peninsula 
Depository, which a country that is very progressive in terms of a lot 
of its policies, but that have shown that the technology is there to 
safely deposit nuclear waste in a way that has real confidence and is 
moving forward. We should do it, too.
  Again, H.R. 3053 is, I think, the roadmap for this country to deal 
with this problem in a way that is safe, is transparent, and will 
reduce costs for ratepayers all across the country.
  I look forward to seeing a vote take place very soon on the floor of 
the House. And then, frankly, I look forward to a bill signing ceremony 
at the White House, where Mr. Shimkus

[[Page H1361]]

should certainly take a front row seat for his great work.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks. I am 
glad he brought up the debate and the discussion on the nuclear Navy, 
because that is really a key part of this debate.
  The nuclear-use fuel for our nuclear fleet is, by law, directed to be 
housed at Yucca Mountain.
  Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, may I just make one last point to really 
underscore that?
  Mr. Speaker, I am on the Armed Services Committee, and we are in the 
midst of moving forward with a 355-ship Navy.
  If you look at the force architecture that is going to be in that 
growth, it is almost all concentrated in submarines and carriers. The 
fact of the matter is that the challenge of waste disposal for our 
national defense and national security is going to be with us for many, 
many years.
  To comment again, the gentleman's proposal is a way for us to deal 
with that and strengthen our Navy and our national defense.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his leadership.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. 
Duncan), a colleague, a new member of the Energy and Commerce 
Committee, but no stranger to this issue and this debate.
  Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for 
holding this Special Order hour to talk about a very critical policy 
and issue for our country.
  Mr. Speaker, nuclear energy is a critical component of the United 
States' energy matrix. It is no secret that I am passionate about 
energy independence and nuclear energy as an essential, emission-free, 
domestic source of electricity.
  As we create nuclear energy, we also create nuclear waste. In my 
district, the Oconee Nuclear Station run by Duke Energy in Oconee 
County, South Carolina, has 40 years' worth of nuclear waste sitting at 
the site. Without a permanent geological repository, nuclear waste will 
continue to pile up at reactors in South Carolina and all across the 
  There is currently estimated to be about 4,500 tons of spent nuclear 
fuel in temporary storage in South Carolina from commercial reactors.
  Furthermore, there are more than 10,000 tons of military and research 
nuclear waste at the Savannah River site, just outside my district.
  Nuclear waste sits idle and is stored in dry casts and wet pools in 
121 communities across 39 States. It is imperative that we pass 
Chairman Shimkus' legislation, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, 
to reform our country's nuclear waste policy and utilize Yucca Mountain 
as our main point of nuclear storage.
  Having nuclear waste dispersed across the country and close to highly 
populated areas makes zero sense, and is an unnecessary and avoidable 
  The depository at Yucca Mountain, after decades of research, has been 
independently verified to safely dispose of spent nuclear fuel for a 
million years. It is the law of the land. It is a perfect site for 
  We as a country need to embrace the law of the land. It is a long-
term stable storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. After all the 
scientific research and money taken from ratepayers, it is time to move 
  It is sad that this project has been mothballed because of politics 
and has been used as a political football at the expense of the 
American ratepayers.
  What do I mean by American ratepayers paying for this?
  U.S. ratepayers have already paid the Federal Government over $40 
billion to develop Yucca Mountain, and currently all U.S. taxpayers are 
paying over $2 million a day because we have not yet fulfilled our 
legal obligations. Ratepayers are quite literally paying something for 
  Ratepayers in my State of South Carolina have already paid $1.3 
billion in fees, which were intended to pay for a functioning Yucca 
Mountain nuclear waste repository. Ratepayers in other States which 
utilize nuclear commercial energy have paid billions more.
  It is time to put politics aside. Authorize what Congress has already 
approved and paid for by Americans. Yucca Mountain should not have 
taken this long to become a reality; not after colossal amounts of 
money have been poured into this infrastructure project.
  Members on both sides of the aisle, as you see tonight, are 
supportive of authorizing the use of Yucca Mountain through the Nuclear 
Waste Policy Act Amendments. It voted out of the House Energy and 
Commerce Committee by a vote of 49-4. Let's not let the politics of a 
few get in the way of reforming our nuclear waste policy and ensuring 
Americans get what they have already paid billions into.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for his leadership, and I look 
forward to working with him to move this forward.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks.
  Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much time I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Illinois has 20 minutes 

                             General Leave

  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and to include extraneous material on the topic of this Special 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SHIMKUS. I do that, Mr. Speaker, because we have had Members from 
Oregon--I am from Illinois--Tennessee, Minnesota, California, Georgia, 
South Carolina, Texas, Connecticut come down. Many, many Members from 
all over this country also wanted to join me here tonight, but they 
could not, so they will be submitting statements for the Record. I 
appreciate the Chair allowing us to us do that.
  Mr. Speaker, I also want to highlight a few things and just follow up 
on some of my colleagues, who I really appreciate coming down and 
spending their time to talk about the importance of this issue.
  This issue has national support, I think identified by the 49-4 vote 
out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. People are very diverse, from 
all over the country, on the Energy and Commerce Committee. I would 
encourage people to go to the Energy and Commerce Committee website and 
look at the members of that committee and how wide and how diverse we 
are. We are all united on this issue.
  The national newsmakers and the recorders of what is going on are 
starting to take interest in solving this problem. We have a couple 
editorials and statements from some major papers and some smaller ones.
  Here is The Washington Post: ``Put Yucca Mountain to work. The Nation 
needs it.''
  As was stated, the law was passed in 1982 and it was amended in 1987. 
Congressman Duncan said it right. This is the law of the land. For the 
last 8 to 10 years, we have been breaking the law by not moving 
forward. People have heard me say that numerous times before.
  Here is The San Diego Union-Tribune: ``Revival of Yucca Mountain 
nuclear waste project overdue.''
  Well, it is 20 years. We should have been receiving spent nuclear 
fuel and defense waste 20 years ago. Now we are paying judgments 
because of our inability to comply with the law.
  Wouldn't you like the government to do what it says it wants to do 
and then is planning to do it? And then shouldn't they do it?
  Here is Aiken Standard: ``Fed should proceed with Yucca Mountain.''
  Here is the Reason: ``Open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste 
  Here is the Los Angeles Times and their statement on this issue: 
``The Federal Government needs to renew its efforts to bring the Yucca 
Mountain site into operation.''
  There is a lot of support in California because they are closing 
nuclear power plants and they have spent nuclear fuel on the beach, as 
Congressman Carbajal has said. He is talking about San Luis Obispo.
  I think I will show a chart later on that shows San Onofre Nuclear 
Generating Station, or SONGS, which is being decommissioned.
  Here is the Chicago Tribune, from my State: ``Yucca Mountain is the 
only viable alternative to the jury-rigged status quo. We hope the 
Trump administration and Congress will revive it because if they 
don't''--well, you can read it, right?

[[Page H1362]]

  So let me give you an example. It was mentioned by one of my 
colleagues, and I will talk about Illinois for a little bit. Zion 
Nuclear Power Station is decommissioned. On the shore of Lake Michigan 
is spent nuclear fuel.
  Part of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments of 2017 does a couple 
things. It makes sure the authorization language is in place so that we 
start moving forward on a final repository.
  We have listened to my colleagues from around the country to say it 
is not going to move fast enough, even if you start it.
  Can't we find some regional temporary locations.
  Now, in the nuclear timeframe, ``temporary'' is about 40 years. That 
is temporary when you are talking about nuclear stuff. So we want to be 
able to consolidate.
  What this shows is licensed and operating nuclear spent fuel storage 
installations. These are just locations where you have nuclear power. 
And you can see the red dots all over the place, and other nuclear 
registered locations.
  I am not talking about the other issue, which is defense locations. 
That is why I am glad my colleague Joe Courtney came down to talk about 
Connecticut and the nuclear Navy.
  A colleague that really wanted to be down here was  Dan Newhouse, who 
represents Hanford. Hanford is the epitome story of why we need to get 
our act together as a nation and fulfill our obligations to clean up 
these sites.
  This is a defense site. We created waste in the production of our 
nuclear arsenal. Decades, stored in tanks, toxic sludge underneath the 
ground that needs to be glassified, as Chairman Walden mentioned. And 
where that glassified toxic sludge is supposed to go is underneath the 
mountain in a desert in Yucca Mountain.
  So these are the different locations we have here across the country. 
As was stated tonight already, 39 States, 121 locations. Thirty-nine 
States, 121 locations.
  So let me give you a few examples of what we are talking about.
  My colleague Jason Lewis was down here earlier, and he mentioned 
Prairie Island. These are old charts, but they are oldies but goodies 
because we haven't done anything. I can go into the dustbin of history 
when I talk about this on the floor, and the only thing that has 
changed is there is more spent nuclear fuel on these sites.
  So you have Prairie Island. You have waste stored aboveground in 
pools and in casts. You have, in the Mississippi floodplain, on the 
Mississippi River, 50 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul versus Yucca 
  Now, what do we have at Yucca Mountain?
  Now, Yucca Mountain is where, by law, we are supposed to be receiving 
long-term repository.
  I refer people, there is no nuclear waste on site. Here is the 
mountain in a desert. The waste will be stored 1,000 feet underground 
and 1,000 feet above the water table.

                              {time}  2015

  The Colorado River is the closest body of water 100 miles away. So 
that is the example. That is what we want to show to the American 
  Would you rather have nuclear waste or defense waste next to your 
major cities and by major bodies of water, or would you rather have 
them in a desert underneath a mountain?
  I had a few Californians down here tonight. Why? Because they are 
decommissioning nuclear power plants. This is the one I visited just 
maybe 14 months ago. It is no longer an operating nuclear power 
station. They are decommissioning it. The waste will be stored onsite. 
It is the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. It is between L.A. and 
San Diego right on the Pacific Ocean. At this time, there are 2,300 
waste rods onsite. That has probably increased by a number I don't 
know. Waste is stored aboveground. It is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, 
and it is located 45 miles from San Diego, versus Yucca Mountain which 
is located here, which is a mountain in a desert. The waste would be 
1,000 feet underground, and that is 1,000 feet above the water table.
  So I have listened to my colleagues from Nevada. In fact, in this 
picture, this green area, these are all the counties around the Federal 
land site that have passed resolutions in support of moving forward.
  Now, what do the Nevadans tell me? They want to make sure it is safe. 
How do you make it safe? You decide to adjudicate the science. We give 
Nevada, as per law, their last chance to question the science. That is 
what we are trying to do in the appropriation process is get the money 
to do the final adjudication so that the question can be answered. To 
my friends from the State of Nevada: Is a mountain in a desert a safe 
place to store the defense waste and spent fuel?
  Now, the red part is Federal land. Yucca Mountain would be about 
right here, a little pinhole. That yellow there is--when you hear 
people say local consensus, the yellow here is a local consensus from 
Sweden, and if you notice, it is smaller than the Federal land that we 
have. So I would argue the local consensus is the Federal Government 
since it is all that property. Now, why do we have all that property? 
Because Yucca Flat is there. Because we put nuclear fuel--nuclear 
waste, in some short and some shade, is already housed there. So, 
again, it is a great location.
  I was given a pin tonight from Nye County, and it says, ``Host of 
Yucca Mountain.'' So with all due respect to my colleagues from the 
State of Nevada, when they say that everyone is against it, they are 
not talking to everyone in the State of Nevada. I have been to Las 
Vegas, I have been to Reno, and I have been to Pahrump, and there are 
people that--if proven safe.
  So I would ask the Governor, allow us to have the litigation to fight 
the science. That is what he wants to prove, that is what we want to 
prove, and that is what we need to appropriate the money, get the final 
adjudication, and then I am convinced that our nuclear scientists, the 
studies, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that issued a safety and 
evaluation report will come out and say: You are not going to find a 
safer place on this planet; there is no more of a studied location on 
the planet than Yucca Mountain.
  So, again, I want to thank my colleagues for coming down to do a 
couple things. First of all, we want to highlight to our leadership in 
this House and our appropriators that we need to get money into the 
final omnibus to do the adjudication to fight for the science, and we 
have to do that now--issue one.
  Issue two, there is a bipartisan consensus, as proven by the 49-4 
vote in the committee and by 108 cosponsors, and when we get the bill 
on the floor, a passage of a bill that we probably would project to get 
300 votes out of 435.
  So the nuclear era started in World War II. It was started to beat 
Hitler to make sure they didn't win World War II. Then we had the arms 
race with the Soviet Union. It has helped protect our freedom and 
liberty. There was a price to pay, environmental degradations across 
this country. We owe it to these communities and to ourselves to safely 
gather, store, and protect the environment and protect our citizens. We 
do that through the appropriation process. We do it by passing the 
Nuclear Waste Policy Act amendments of 2007.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to again thank my friends from both sides of the 
aisle for coming down this night.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. WILSON of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, in 2002, after extensive 
research by the Department of Energy (DOE), scientists concluded that 
Yucca Mountain met all the requirements to act as a repository for high 
level radioactive waste. After which, the DOE applied for the license 
from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin construction of the 
Yucca Mountain facility.
  Unfortunately, due to political brinksmanship, those plans have 
stalled indefinitely, despite the fact that ratepayers have contributed 
nearly $30 Billion to the nuclear waste fund, which is specifically 
designated to be used for Yucca Mountain.
  The federal government and taxpayers have dedicated enormous 
resources to completing the nuclear storage facility at Yucca Mountain. 
However, the Obama Administration did everything in its power to stall 
the completion of the facility, holding up construction under political 
red tape--even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's own safety 
evaluation found it would not be a threat to the local population of 
Nevada as it would benefit all of America.
  Thankfully, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 will 
finally remove

[[Page H1363]]

unnecessary burdens to make much needed improvements to our national 
nuclear waste strategy.
  This legislation is especially important to the residents of South 
Carolina. South Carolina ratepayers have invested over $1.3 billion 
into Yucca over the last 30 years--that's in addition to the billions 
of dollars collected from ratepayers across the country. During this 
time, states like South Carolina have remained de facto repositories 
for nuclear waste. The federal government should finish what they 
started and complete the Yucca Mountain license application.
  Currently, SNF is stored in 121 different neighborhoods, across 39 
states--all waiting to be moved to a permanent location. The Nuclear 
Waste Policy Amendments Act will address the concerns of communities 
across the country, in a cost-effective manner, and passed the Energy 
and Commerce Committee with bi-partisan support, 49 members voting in 
favor and only 4 against. I am grateful for the opportunity to support 
this legislation, and am hopeful that it will provide much needed 
clarification on the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
  I am grateful that text from my bill, the Sensible Nuclear Waste 
Disposition Act was included in this bill and thank Chairman John 
Shimkus for his leadership.