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Yucca Must Be Part of Nuclear-Waste Bill, Shimkus Says

Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, second from right, discusses nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain during a Bloomberg Government conference in Washington. Photographer: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Legislation for U.S. disposal of nuclear waste must provide for storage at Yucca Mountain, the head of a House panel overseeing environmental issues said, renewing the debate over the abandoned Nevada site.

“We will not move on any nuclear-waste provision without a Yucca Mountain component,” Representative John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, said today at a Bloomberg Government conference in Washington.

The U.S. is weighing options for more than 65,000 metric tons of waste, primarily stored at the nation’s atomic power plants. President Barack Obama’s administration in 2010 ended funding for the Yucca site as lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, objected to the proposed site.

“Yucca Mountain will be there long after Senator Reid is gone,” said Shimkus, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee panel on environment and the economy.

Industry and government have spent about $15 billion on the abandoned Yucca site, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas. The Energy Department collects about $750 million a year from the nuclear-energy industry for disposal while plans for a permanent repository are in limbo.

The U.S. needs temporary and permanent facilities to store nuclear waste regardless of what the government decides to do with Yucca Mountain, a panel created by Obama to study storage options said in a report a year ago. Republicans in Congress have said the panel’s findings support using the Nevada site.

Carol Browner, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said at the conference that she expects the administration to propose regulating greenhouse gases from existing power plants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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