House panel approves full funding for Yucca

WASHINGTON — A House panel beginning the process of writing an energy spending bill for next year voted Tuesday to fully fund the Energy Department’s request for the Yucca Mountain Project.

The action by the House energy and water subcommittee was expected. Its leaders customarily support the government’s planned nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The House bill contains $474.7 million for the Yucca project, the amount that DOE requested, according to subcommittee chairman Pete Visclosky, D-Ind.

The test for the Department of Energy program usually comes later in the year when the energy spending bill reaches the Senate. That is where repository opponent Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., tries to force cuts.

Visclosky also said funding is being increased for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the safety agency that is considering a repository construction application that DOE submitted earlier this month.

Visclosky, speaking to reporters following the subcommittee meeting, said he did not have the NRC budget figures immediately available.

For Yucca Mountain activities, the NRC had requested $37.3 million for fiscal 2009, which is $8.3 million more than what Congress supplied for the current year.

The NRC’s total budget request was $1.02 billion, of which about 90 percent is funded by the nuclear industry through user fees.

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