Rep. Cliff Stearns

House Committee on Energy & Commerce

Department of Energy’s Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal

March 9, 2006

   Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing.

Mr. Secretary, welcome and thank you for taking the time to appear before us today. I appreciated your efforts to work with Congress in passing last year’s energy bill, and look forward to our continued cooperation to tackle a specific segment of the energy production industry: nuclear power.

My home state of Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, with more than 17 million citizens -- and nearly 1,000 new residents arriving every day. According to the Florida State Department of Environmental Protection, my state’s expanding economy will lead to a 30 percent increase in electricity consumption over the next ten years. Of course, Floridians, like most Americans, want their energy as clean as possible. Because nuclear power is abundant, safe, reliable, and free of harmful emissions, Florida already looks to nuclear power for about 15% of its electricity needs.

In his Fiscal Year 2007 budget, the President requested $544.5 million for nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, a $50 million increase from FY06 appropriations. Some $20 billion has been collected in the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund for the implementation of the Yucca Mountain storage site -- over $1 billion from Florida alone.  

While I appreciate the Department’s proposed Global Nuclear Energy Program (GNEP), which will over time reduce the amount of spent nuclear fuel destined for storage, this does not obviate the need to finally open Yucca for business.  Since 1998, the law has required the Federal government to collect spent fuel, and it is time for collection to get underway.

Mr. Secretary, I eagerly await a legislative proposal to set sensible scientific standards for waste disposal, and to comprehensively address Yucca Mountain. While no new nuclear plants have entered service in Florida since 1983, Progress Energy will be announcing plans later this month to construct a new nuclear plant in my state. I commend them for considering this important investment in our energy future.

So, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, let’s not leave energy providers hanging in regulatory limbo. Let’s get Yucca done.

See the original: Serial No. 109-82

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