TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP BLASTS CONGRESS FOR FAILING TO ACT ON NUCLEAR WASTE BILL | Citizens Against Government Waste

TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP BLASTS CONGRESS FOR FAILING TO ACT ON NUCLEAR WASTE BILL

Press Release

Embargoed for Release   Contact:  Jim Campi
January 30, 1998(202) 467-5300

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) President Thomas A. Schatz expressed his outrage today for Congress’ failure to give full consideration to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (H.R. 1270). 

Earlier this week, by a vote of 56-39, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the Nuclear Waste bill.  Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) urged members of his party to delay consideration until the Senate has completed it consideration of controversial tobacco legislation.

“It’s interesting that instead of following through on a 15-year promise that has cost American taxpayers billions of dollars, Sen. Daschle and his colleague are more concerned with making sure they push through a tobacco bill that will raise taxes more than $500 billion under the guise of preventing teen smoking,” said Schatz. “

Since 1983, the DOE has collected surcharges from ratepayers across the country and put the funds into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF).  The fund, which has taken in a total of $14 billion, is to be spent on the construction of a permanent repository for used commercial nuclear waste.  So far, the DOE has spent $6 billion to determine the feasibility of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as the permanent site, and the remainder has been used to mask the deficit.  Though the agency has lost every court battle on this issue so far, it has steadfastly refused to acknowledge its responsibility or begin removing the waste to an interim facility by January 31.  DOE’s failure could ultimately cost taxpayers and ratepayers at least $56 billion.

“When taxpayers hear the words ‘trust fund’ coming from Washington, they should grab their wallets,” remarked Schatz.  “DOE has collected $600 million a year in surcharges since 1983.  Yet it refuses to make good on its legal obligation to remove and store the used nuclear fuel.  Americans shouldn’t have to pay more to make up for DOE’s mismanagement or the Treasury Department’s raids on the trust fund.”

Storage space at nuclear sites around the country is dwindling, with 85 of them scheduled to reach capacity by 2010.  The House and Senate last year passed separate bills to force DOE to fulfill its obligations.  Regardless of which version prevails, President Clinton has made it clear he will veto any bill that calls for the construction of an interim facility.

“The courts have spoken.  DOE’s broken promises are threatening to saddle taxpayers with another S & L-type bailout.  That is unacceptable.  This issue drives at the heart of whether or not the federal government’s commitments are worth the paper they’re written on,” asserted Schatz.  “CCAGW commends Sens. Murkowski (R-Alaska), Craig (R-Idaho) and Grams (R-Minn.) for their leadership, as well as Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Ralph Hall (D-Texas).  We will work with them and other members to ensure that DOE fulfills its obligations.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is a 600,000-member organization dedicated to seeking enactment of legislation to eliminate waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and abuse in the federal government. 

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