For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 15, 2002
Presidential Letter to Congress
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate
February 15, 2002
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
In accordance with section 114 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, 42 U.S.C. 10134 (the "Act"), the Secretary of Energy has recommended approval of the Yucca Mountain site for the development at that site of a repository for the geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high level nuclear waste from the Nation's defense activities. As is required by the Act, the Secretary has also submitted to me a comprehensive statement of the basis of his recommendation.
Having received the Secretary's recommendation and the comprehensive statement of the basis of it, I consider the Yucca Mountain site qualified for application for a construc-tion authorization for a repository. Therefore, I now recommend the Yucca Mountain site for this purpose. In accordance with section 114 of the Act, I am transmitting with this recommenda-tion to the Congress a copy of the comprehensive statement of the basis of the Secretary's recommendation prepared pursuant to the Act. The transmission of this document triggers an expedited process described in the Act. I urge the Congress to undertake any necessary legislative action on this recommendation in an expedited and bipartisan fashion.
Proceeding with the repository program is necessary to protect public safety, health, and the Nation's security because successful completion of this project would isolate in a geologic repository at a remote location highly radioactive materials now scattered throughout the Nation. In addition, the geologic repository would support our national security through disposal of nuclear waste from our defense facilities.
A deep geologic repository, such as Yucca Mountain, is important for our national security and our energy future. Nuclear energy is the second largest source of U.S. electricity generation and must remain a major component of our national energy policy in the years to come. The cost of nuclear power compares favorably with the costs of electricity generation by other sources, and nuclear power has none of the emissions associated with coal and gas power plants.
This recommendation, if it becomes effective, will permit commencement of the next rigorous stage of scientific and technical review of the repository program through formal licensing proceedings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Successful completion of this program also will redeem the clear Federal legal obligation safely to dispose of commercial spent nuclear fuel that the Congress passed in 1982.
This recommendation is the culmination of two decades of intense scientific scrutiny involving application of an array of scientific and technical disciplines necessary and appropriate for this challenging undertaking. It is an undertaking that was mandated twice by the Congress when it legislated the obligations that would be redeemed by successful pursuit of the repository program. Allowing this recommendation to come into effect will enable the beginning of the next phase of intense scrutiny of the project necessary to assure the public health, safety, and security in the area of Yucca Mountain, and also to enhance the safety and security of the Nation as a whole.
GEORGE W. BUSH