Nuclear Energy Institute senior vice president for governmental affairs Alex Flint said he was pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee had proposed a bump of 2.5 percent to nuclear energy programs for fiscal 2016 from the current budget year.
The key budget committee approved of an energy and water spending bill of $35 billion, of which $936 million would go to nuclear energy programs, a $22.5 million increase from the current fiscal year. That is also a 3.1 percent increase (or $28.5 million) above and beyond the administration's line item request for nuclear energy programs, the NEI said.
"It is gratifying to see strong support for nuclear energy remaining a vital component of a diversified electricity portfolio that will strengthen our energy security," Flint said in a statement.
The committee reduced the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allocation by $25 million or 2.5 percent, but that reduction is in line with a NRC request. The NRC has recommended steps that would reduce its size and increase efficiency to match a dwindling call for new nuclear power plants in the United States.
The appropriations committee also rejected an administration proposal to impose a 10-year, $2 billion tax on the nuclear power industry that would be earmarked for decommissioning three federal uranium enrichment facilities that were in operation “during the Cold War,” the NEI said. “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 NEI said.
Funding for the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has long been a political football. The House committee allocated $175 million for continued licensing activities or the proposed site. That sum includes $150 million for the Department of Energy and $25 million for the NRC. In contrast, the administration proposed a $27 million budget for Yucca Mountain, which would, in effect, choke off any new development of the site.
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