WASHINGTON, June 18, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nuclear energy programs would receive $899 million in fiscal 2015 under a $34 billion energy and water spending bill approved today by the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee. That is an increase of $10 million from the current fiscal year and an increase of $36 million, or 4.2 percent, from the administration's request for the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The committee rejected President Obama's proposal to impose a 10-year, $2 billion tax on the nuclear energy industry for the decontamination and decommissioning of uranium enrichment facilities that the U.S. Department of Energy operated in three states during the Cold War. Beyond paying toward cleanup activities at the sites as part of the cost of enriched uranium purchased from the government for reactor fuel, the industry additionally paid $2.6 billion in taxes for this effort from 1993 to 2008.
The House panel also budgeted $205 million—$150 million to DOE and $55 million to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission—to continue licensing activities for the nuclear waste repository planned for Yucca Mountain, Nev. The administration requested only $27 million as part of its efforts to terminate the Yucca Mountain project.
Alex Flint, NEI's senior vice president for governmental affairs, said the committee's action reflects lawmakers' recognition that nuclear energy is a vital component of a diverse electricity portfolio benefiting the nation.
"The industry greatly appreciates the Appropriations Committee's funding support for programs and activities that enhance nuclear energy's ability to help the United States achieve its energy and environmental goals. We recognize that budget pressures are intense. The committee's commitment to Yucca Mountain, its investment in research and development for advanced design reactors, and its support for workers at the mixed oxide plant in South Carolina are all immensely important," Flint said.
The appropriations bill provides $138 million for reactor concepts R &D, an increase of $25 million from current year, and $182 million for fuel cycle R &D, a decrease of $4.5 million from the current year.
The small reactor licensing program would receive $54.5 million in fiscal 2015, compared to $110 million in the current year.
The appropriations panel provided $430 million for the fissile materials disposition program, which is centered on the mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility being built at DOE's Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The administration wants to put the program on standby while it evaluates alternative approaches to convert weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel, a proposal opposed by the industry and numerous political leaders in the state. The committee's funding level exceeds the administration's request by $119 million, or 38 percent.
"The MOX program is a key component of our nation's nonproliferation strategy," Flint said. "Because of the value in reducing the potential spread of weapons-usable fissile materials and the bilateral commitments made with the Russian Federation regarding the disposition of excess weapons plutonium, the committee's efforts to maintain the viability of this program is most welcome."
Another program not funded by the administration—the integrated university program that provides support for the sector's workforce of the future—would receive $5 million at DOE and $15 million at the NRC under the committee's appropriations markup.
While the committee's spending blueprint increases NRC funding overall to $1.05 billion, it reduces by $40 million the service fees that nuclear energy facilities must pay for agency oversight. The committee's report language bases the reduction on an anticipated carryover of industry collections to fiscal 2015 from the current year's budget.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.
CONTACT: Contact NEI's media relations staff at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.739.8000 during business hours or 703.644.8805 after hours and weekends.
Source:Nuclear Energy Institute