WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Steven Chu is poised to announce on Friday the long-awaited expert panel to recommend alternatives to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, congressional sources said.
The announcement is being seen as another step in the process to end the government’s decades-long bid to build an underground repository in Nevada for 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel.
The Obama administration has cut the program’s budget deeply. The president’s new budget plan scheduled to be released on Monday is expected to contain only token funding, along with a charge for the panel to begin its work on a new path.
Aides to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., confirmed an announcement will take place on Friday. It was not known how many people would serve on the blue ribbon commission, or how long it would have to develop its study.
"We have already succeeded in cutting nearly all funding for this $100 billion hole in the Nevada desert, and the creation of this blue ribbon commission will begin the task of finding alternatives to burying nuclear waste 90 minutes outside Las Vegas," Berkley said in a statement tonight.
Other sources said Chu would appoint veteran international policy experts Brent Scowcroft and Lee Hamilton to co-lead the study panel.
Scowcroft is president of the Scowcroft Group, an international advisory service. He has led a number of high-level government councils and served Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George W. Bush.
Likewise, Hamilton, a former member of the House of Representatives, is best known for his service on the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group that dissected U.S. involvement in the Iraq war. He is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a foreign affairs think tank.
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