For a brief moment last month, it looked as though the Obama administration might soften its hard-line approach to Yucca Mountain.
In an appearance before the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu appeared to acknowledge a role for Congress in determining the fate of the proposed nuclear waste repository at the Nevada site.
During the March 24 hearing, Chu came under fire from both Democrats and Republicans on the subcommittee for the administration's unilateral decision to abandon the repository project, Jeff Beattie reported in a recent edition of Energy Daily.
At issue is $115 million that Congress appropriated for efforts to license Yucca Mountain as the nation's first high-level nuclear waste repository.
The Department of Energy plans to "reprogram" the money, using it to close down the Yucca Mountain site instead.
"In response to the criticism Wednesday, Chu said, 'Before we do anything (on reprogramming) we are going to have a discussion with this committee,' " Beattie reported.
"And asked what DOE would do about trying to wind down Yucca if congressional appropriators rejected the reprogramming plan, Chu said: 'If they (appropriators) deny our request, we will have to reassess where we are,' " the article said.
It was a short-lived step toward a more collaborative approach.
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