Senate Democrats

REID, ENSIGN PRESS FOR RELEASE OF ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN

Analysis of Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act Consequences Overdue

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a joint letter sent Wednesday, U.S. Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign of Nevada strongly urged the Council on Environmental Quality to release the long-overdue and legally mandated environmental impact analysis of the Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act, the proposal for dumping nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the completion and public release of an environmental analysis of such legislation so the full environmental consequences of the bill can be examined before Congress acts. The Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act was first presented to Congress on April 5, 2006, nearly four months ago.

“We are talking about the most dangerous substance known to man. The people of Nevada need to know, and have a right to know, about the dangers associated with storing 77,000 tons of nuclear waste in our state, including the potential environmental impact.” said Reid. “It would be irresponsible to rush to build a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain and transport so much dangerous material across the country without the public being informed of the public health and environmental hazards.”

“The CEQ must provide this analysis to Congress,” said Ensign. “The people of Nevada have a legal right to know the environmental impact of storing the most hazardous substance known to mankind in our backyard.”

The Senators sent the letter in advance of a hearing that will be held next week regarding the Yucca Mountain proposal. Both senators are urging the Council on Environmental Quality to release its report in time for the hearing to enable a thorough discussion of the Yucca Mountain proposal.

The full text of the letter is below.

###

James L. Connaughton Chairman

Council on Environmental Quality

The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Chairman Connaughton:

We are writing to request the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) environmental impact analysis of the Nuclear Fuel Management and Disposal Act, S. 2589, that Senators Domenici and Inhofe introduced by request of the Administration.

As stated in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 102(C) (43 U.S.C. 4332(C)):

“The Congress authorizes and directs that, to the fullest extent possible: (1) the policies, regulations, and public laws of the United States shall be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies set forth in this Act, and (2) all agencies of the Federal Government shall –

. . .

(C) include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by the responsible official on –

(i) the environmental impact of the proposed action,

(ii) any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented,

(iii) alternatives to the proposed action,

(iv) the relationship between local short-term uses of man’s environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and

(v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented[.]”

CEQ’s analysis must be presented to Congress and the public prior to any action on the Administration’s proposal. CEQ’s analysis is necessary for members of Congress and the public to understand the impact and parameters of the proposal.

The administration’s bill was presented to Congress on April 5, 2006, nearly four months ago, yet Congress has not received the CEQ’s analysis as required by law. As we are confident that this is just an oversight of CEQ, we request that the analysis be provided to Congress by COB July 26th. We look forward to reviewing your analysis. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this request, please contact Sandra Schubert at 224.3542 or Pam Thiessen at 224.6244.

Sincerely,

United States Senator Harry Reid

United States Senator John Ensign

Cc: United States Senator Pete Domenici, Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senator Jeff Bingaman, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senator James Inhofe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

United States Senator James Jeffords, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

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