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SENIOR SENATE DEMOCRAT BREAKS RANKS OVER YUCCA

By Nuclear Townhall Staff
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) — a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will ultimately decide the fate of continued funding for the Yucca Mountain project — has called for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to "stop all current actions to terminate the project.”  In a statement following the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decision yesterday to deny the DOE's motion to withdraw its license application for Yucca Mountain, Murray said: “It is clear from today’s decision that the Department of Energy does not have the authority to unilaterally attempt to terminate the Yucca Mountain project."

The defection of the Murray — a powerful Senate Appropriations "Cardinal" from a state with a large nuclear waste inventory — is fraught with implications for politically embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has made the termination of Yucca Mountain a key issue in his hard fought re-election campaign.  In addition to her influential position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray's call for a cessation of the Obama Administration efforts to kill the national repository program is a likely harbinger of other breaks in Democratic Senate ranks, which have remained largely silent on the Yucca Mountain issue in deference to Senator Reid.

Murray faces a serious challenge this year in her own re-election campaign. The State of Washington has also mounted a legal challenge opposing the termination of Yucca Mountain.

Senator Murray's full statement follows. 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Senator Murray’s Statement on Denial of Motion to Close Yucca Mountain.

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied the Department of Energy’s motion to withdraw its license application for Yucca Mountain.

“It is clear from today’s decision that the Department of Energy does not have the authority to unilaterally attempt to terminate the Yucca Mountain project. Given today’s decision, the Department should stop all current actions to terminate the project.”

“Over the last 30 years, Congress, independent studies, and previous administrations have all pointed to, voted for, and funded Yucca Mountain as the nation’s best option for a nuclear repository. And in concert with those decisions, billions of dollars and countless work hours have been spent at Hanford and nuclear waste sites across the country in an effort to treat and package nuclear waste that will be sent there. Without a repository, those sites and the communities that support them have been left in limbo.”

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