On Tuesday the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Department of Energy (DOE) can no longer collect fees for the Nuclear Waste Fund. What does this mean and why should you care?
First, this means DOE can no longer collect fees for a program that is virtually non-existent and non-operational. Since the mid-1980s the agency has collected more than $30 billion from nuclear utilities to build a long-term nuclear repository. Over 35 states have paid into this fund and all the money has come from rate payers, like you and me and, yet we still have no place to store nuclear waste.
Second it is encouraging that the court is enforcing the law as written and holding DOE accountable. The court’s decision was more than a slap on the hand – it was a reprimand in front of the entire nation. The court sent a loud and unambiguous message, something needs to change and what you have been doing is not working. New management wanted!
It is clear that Congress bears a share of the responsibility for this repository not being built. If we truly want to have an “all of the above energy” policy that includes nuclear power then Congress and the agencies need to find solutions that meet our national rather than parochial interests.