GOP presses Chu anew on Yucca adieu

Two Republican leaders on the House science committee are pressing Energy Secretary Steven Chu to further explain why the Obama administration is terminating the nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain.

Reps. Ralph Hall of Texas, the committee's top GOP member, and Paul Broun of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the science investigations subcommittee, signed a letter Wednesday expressing frustration with the decision.

The Republicans said they never heard back after sending Chu a letter last May with a series of questions about the administration's plans for the proposed repository and the formation of a blue ribbon commission to study nuclear waste management.

"We find it alarming that your department made an important decision that could have significant adverse consequences for the nation and the American taxpayer without conducting a comprehensive analysis," they said in the letter.

Here is the letter from the House members, along with their letter from last May.

Chu announced on Monday that the Department of Energy was proposing to zero out the Yucca Mountain budget and would withdraw its application to build the nuclear waste complex at the Yucca site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

In his first Capitol Hill appearance on Thursday. Chu said the Obama administration believes there are "better solutions" than storing and burying spent nuclear fuel at the Yucca site, and the blue ribbon commission will explore what they may be.

At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, similarly asked whether Chu was going to send Congress a detailed justification for ending the repository program, but he indicated that was not in the plans.

"We are still intending to move forward," Chu said. "We don't think the pulling of the Yucca application means we are at a standstill but I believe there are better solutions."