ABSTRACT

Nuclear Energy Policy [November 25, 2011]   [open pdf - 445KB]

"Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include federal incentives for new commercial reactors, power plant safety and regulation, radioactive waste management policy, research and development priorities, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks. Significant incentives for new commercial reactors were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05, P.L. 109-58). These include production tax credits, loan guarantees, insurance against regulatory delays, and extension of the Price-Anderson Act nuclear liability system. Together with volatile fossil fuel prices and the possibility of greenhouse gas controls, the federal incentives for nuclear power helped spur renewed interest by utilities and other potential reactor developers. Plans for as many as 31 reactor license applications have been announced, although only a handful of those projects currently appear to be moving toward construction. […] Disposal of highly radioactive waste has been one of the most controversial aspects of nuclear power. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-425), as amended in 1987, required DOE [Department of Energy] to conduct a detailed physical characterization of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent underground repository for high-level waste. The Obama Administration decided to 'terminate the Yucca Mountain program while developing nuclear waste disposal alternatives,' according to the DOE FY2010 budget justification. Alternatives to Yucca Mountain are being evaluated by a 'blue ribbon' panel of experts convened by the Administration. No funding was provided for the Yucca Mountain project in FY2011, and DOE filed a motion with NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] to withdraw the Yucca Mountain license application on March 3, 2010. However, the motion to withdraw has prompted substantial opposition, including lawsuits in federal court."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33558
Author:
Publisher:
Date:
2011-11-25
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Copyright:
Public Domain
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Via E-mail
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application/pdf
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