Murkowski Welcomes Announcement of Blue Ribbon Commission and Increased Loan Guarantees

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following statement regarding the Obama administration's announcement of a 15 member blue-ribbon commission to study spent nuclear fuel policy options and the expansion of the loan guarantee program for nuclear energy:

"Our efforts to expand the nuclear energy industry in the United States have been in doubt since the Obama administration cut funding last year for the licensing of the Yucca Mountain repository without offering an alternative. "Now that the Obama administration has established a blue-ribbon commission to look at the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, it's my hope that we will be able to move forward in the development of new nuclear energy," Murkowski said.

"As Secretary Chu testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week, some form of geological repository will ultimately be needed to handle America's spent nuclear fuel. This new commission must have the independence to be able to consider all options, including the potential use of Yucca Mountain, in order to provide a credible recommendation."

The commission is expected to provide recommendations for developing a long-term solution to storing spent nuclear fuel within 24 months.

Sen. Murkowski is also pleased with the Obama administration's decision to increase the loan guarantee authority for construction of new nuclear plants from $18.5 billion to roughly $54 billion.

"This is a good first step toward expanding our use of clean nuclear energy," Murkowski said. "The next step for the administration is to ensure that these loan guarantees are actually awarded in a timely manner."

As Congress considers the best way to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions, Sen. Murkowski, ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has repeatedly called for an increase in the use of carbon-free nuclear energy.

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