NCSL Testimony to the Blue Ribbon Commission
May 25, 2010
Delegate Sally Young Jameson, Maryland
Chair, NCSL Agriculture and Energy Standing Committee
Testimony on Behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures
to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future
May 25, 2010
Good morning Chairman Hamilton, Chairman Scowcroft and members of the Commission. I am
Sally Jameson, Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Agriculture and
Energy Standing Committee and a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. I appear before
you today on behalf of NCSL, a bi-partisan organization representing the 50 state legislatures and
the legislatures of our nation’s commonwealths, territories and the District of Columbia.
Chairman Hamilton and Chairman Scowcroft, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to
testify and share with you and the other members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s
Nuclear Future information about NCSL’s work on nuclear energy issues facing the nation including
waste disposition and storage and the future of new reactors.
NCSL has a long history of working on nuclear energy issues. NCSL has a working group
comprised of state legislators from across the country who discuss issues surrounding nuclear energy
including the safe handling, storage and transportation of waste. This long-standing group meets
twice a year and also helps to form NCSL policy resolutions on this and other topics. I am a
member of this working group and have valued the opportunity to discuss these important issues
with my peers from around the country. I also have the privilege of serving on the NCSL Energy
Supply Task Force created in 2009 by the NCSL Executive Committee to explore current energy
policies in the United States, prepare a report and make recommendations for changes to current
NCSL policy related to energy issues. The NCSL Energy Supply Task Force has met four times in
the last six months and is on schedule to release its report in conjunction with the NCSL Legislative
Summit this July.
NCSL recognizes that nuclear power is an integral part of a national energy plan but also
understands the need to address certain issues including transportation, storage and disposal of used
State legislators can and do play a significant role in developing nuclear energy policy, whether it be
in statehouses across the country, town hall meetings with our constituents or meetings with our
respective Congressional delegation, we recognize the importance of these issues and have valued
the relationship we have had in the past with the U.S. Department of Energy. Over the last year
there has been a significant reduction in the department’s state legislative outreach and legislators
have felt that they have had to fight for a seat at the table.
It is critical that the Commission recognize the value of a strong partnership with state legislators
who can help move policy forward in the states and in Congress. Together we can work on behalf
of our mutual interests and common goals. As you are aware, NCSL has several applicable policy
resolutions on these topics, which have been submitted along with my written remarks to the
Commission in advance of this meeting. NCSL’s recently reauthorized Radioactive Waste
Management Policy and National Energy Policy serve as foundation of the NCSL recommendations
to the Commission.
NCSL urges the federal government to develop a program for the long-term treatment and disposal
of high-level radioactive waste, funded by the generators of the waste. This should be pursued with
the highest priority given to the safe reprocessing or transportation of waste and to the safety and
technical suitability of storage or disposal sites. Such a program should be developed in full
consultation with all of the affected states. The nuclear power plant licensing process for future
plant construction must be improved to ensure both public input and timely decisions, and federally
standardized nuclear power plant designs should be established.
NCSL urges Congress to move forward with steps to enable private, Nuclear Regulatory
Commission licensed, interim storage facilities for used nuclear fuel in the United States. Given the
administration’s decision regarding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository it is imperative for
Congress to take the needed steps to address the nation’s current and future needs in managing used
nuclear fuel. NCSL calls on Congress and the administration to conduct research to identify,
develop and license a high-level waste and used nuclear fuel disposal facility. During this process
NCSL urges Congress, the Department of Energy and the Blue Ribbon Commission to keep state
legislatures informed and consult with them regularly to ensure the states play an integral role in the
determination of site selection criteria.
NCSL urges Congress to enact legislation to classify annual funding from the Nuclear Waste Fund
as mandatory spending and ensure that levels are adequate to meet the changing needs of the
program as DOE and the Blue Ribbon Commission move from an investigatory role and begin the
licensing and construction process of a repository. NCSL also firmly believes that Congress must
restore adequate funding to the DOE Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.
Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, it is clearly stated that the Department of Energy will work
with states, including state legislators. Following the decision in 2009 to terminate funding to the
DOE Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, outreach to states, including state
legislators, has been significantly reduced. NCSL strongly urges the Blue Ribbon Commission to
ensure that this requirement is adhered to in the future.
As long-term storage solutions are developed, NCSL supports action at the federal level that would
develop a plan by which the country can move forward with interim storage facilities. Interim
storage facilities located in voluntary host communities are a viable option that can be pursued.
Such communities exist and are ready to step forward. NCSL has worked tirelessly over the last
several years to educate and inform state legislators on these issues and through these efforts we
have arrived at the conclusion that identifying one or more locations for interim storage is possible.
Furthermore, NCSL supports the availability of financing mechanisms and incentives, through the
Nuclear Waste Fund, to these voluntary host communities. These kinds of incentives have been
contemplated in legislation previously introduced in Congress.
We also believe that the role of the Department of Energy, in this regard, should be defined. DOE
should work with current owners of used nuclear fuel and potential facility licensees to affect
transport and resolve contractual liability issues. It is possible that DOE could lease space at these
private interim storage facilities for used commercial nuclear fuel.
NCSL strongly recommends that used fuel sitting at decommissioned or shut down nuclear reactor
sites in Maine, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Oregon, Michigan, Colorado, Illinois, California and
Massachusetts should be the first material to move to these facilities, enabling those states to
complete the cleanup process of their reactor sites.
NCSL stands ready to work with the Blue Ribbon Commission to ensure that state policymakers are
involved in creating a timely, cost-effective solution to this important public policy challenge and
break the logjam in the United States on this issue.