Nuclear Waste Bill Not Dead, Just Sleeping
Posted at 8:59 a.m. on July 25, 2014
Feinstein. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
A Senate measure to set up a new agency to oversee nuclear waste is lying dormant while election year priorities take the spotlight.
Despite prodding from the bill’s supporters, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., has yet to move the bill.
As CQ’s Geof Koss reports, for at least the third time this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday publicly urged Landrieu to take up the bill, which Feinstein cosponsored and which the committee seemed about to move forward when Landrieu took the gavel in February.
Without taking possession of and storing spent nuclear fuel, the federal government stands to “lose $20 billion a year because we don’t have it and we become responsible for it,” Feinstein said while introducing Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall during her nomination hearing to be deputy energy secretary. “And we’ve got nuclear waste piling up all over this country.”
Feinstein and cosponsor Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., twice pressed Landrieu on the bill at appropriations hearings this year, though they both recently expressed understanding on the chairwoman’s priorities, as she is locked in a tight reelection campaign against Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
“She’s got a huge backlog of stuff,” Feinstein told me last month. “My hope would be that she’d put this in the front of the line,” she said. “It should happen and hopefully it will.”
Alexander expressed a similar understanding of the bill’s status.
“It’s not stalled really,” he told me in recent weeks. “Chairman Landrieu has a number of priorities she’s working on,” Alexander added, noting that she’s “been receptive so far.”
Koss has more on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft update to the waste confidence rule, released Thursday (subscription).