House GOP keeps up pressure for Yucca nuclear site

House Republicans are trying to make sure the Obama administration doesn’t completely close off the possibility of a nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the environment subcommittee of that panel, wrote to the administration Thursday to determine whether officials are complying with their obligations regarding Yucca.

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While the administration has stopped the process of formally planning to construct the waste site and Congress has stopped appropriating new funds for it, the GOP wants to ensure that the federal government is ready to restart the planning process as soon as the money is available.

“The federal government must fulfill statutory obligations as soon as possible,” they wrote to Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest MonizWhat we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson Overnight Energy: Former Exxon chief Tillerson takes the hot seat MORE. “Expeditiously resuming work on the Yucca Mountain license application would do just that.”

Upton and Shimkus said they’re planning a hearing on the status of Yucca, which Congress designated in the 1980s as the country’s site for permanent storage of nuclear waste from energy production and defense activities.

In the meantime, they’re grilling Moniz on the administration’s policies regarding nuclear waste, including the strategy of planning for interim storage sites and seeking out places that would consent to hosting a waste site.

The congressmen are challenging the administration’s authority to implement its strategy, saying it contradicts congressional directives and law on nuclear waste.

Upton and Shimkus formally asked in February for a Government Accountability Office investigation into how the administration is complying with its obligations regarding Yucca.