*This post originally appeared on the Hill's Congress Blog.
by Rep. Erik Paulsen (MN)
The Nuclear Waste Fund was established to fund a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. To date no repository exists, yet Minnesota ratepayers have already contributed over $375 million in fees for this fund. Nationwide, over $30 billion in fees have been collected. The bottom line is residents of Minnesota, along with 38 other states, are footing the bill for a service that is not even being provided.
Today, I introduced legislation – the Rebating America’s Deposits Act – that would correct this problem by providing rebates, as well as halting future payments from the Nuclear Waste Fund. This bill would save Minnesota ratepayers millions on their utility bills. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is the author of a companion bill in the Senate.
Specifically, this bill would require that Yucca Mountain be certified as a permanent nuclear waste repository within 30 days of passage. If it is not certified, this bill would rebate money currently in the fund, while also halting future payments to the fund. Additionally, the bill authorizes payments to states currently housing nuclear waste that was scheduled to be transferred to Yucca Mountain.
There is no question we need an energy policy overhaul in America. A key part of that overhaul must include moving forward aggressively with expanding nuclear energy as a renewable energy source. Storing nuclear waste is an important piece of that effort. If the federal government continues to drag their feet on a permanent storage site, whether at Yucca Mountain or elsewhere, we must still ensure those who are storing this waste and the communities they live in are not penalized.
In the meantime, my constituents – and Americans across the country – should not be forced to pay for another government commitment that is not being met.