Federal commission urges permanent nuclear waste storage strategy

The issue has plagued policymakers for decades. Congress first identified Yucca Mountain as the site for permanent nuclear waste storage in 1987, but the project has seen years of delay.

The Obama administration ultimately halted work on Yucca, a move that Republicans say was motivated by politics, not science.

The commission — which is co-chaired by former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft — recommends that policymakers use a “consent-based approach” to determining waste storage and disposal sites. Under that approach, states and communities would be given more input on whether they want to house a storage facility.

Many Nevada citizens and politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), were vocally opposed to Yucca Mountain.

The report also recommends establishing an independent agency responsible for nuclear waste management. The Energy Department currently oversees waste storage and disposal.

About 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel is being stored at 75 nuclear reactors around the country. Experts have long called for a permanent storage site.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee applauded the report Thursday.

"The commission underscored the need for prompt action on a long-term storage disposal facility, and we believe Yucca Mountain remains the most shovel-ready, thoroughly studied option," committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Environment and the Economy subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.), both strong supporters of Yucca Mountain, said in a statement.