Presidential Letter to Congress

February 15, 2002

A letter for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Following 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 the Act requires, 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 construction authorization for a repository. Therefore, I now recommend the Yucca Mountain site for this purpose. By section 114 of the Act, I am transmitting with this recommendation to Congress a copy of the comprehensive statement of the basis of the Secretary’s recommendation prepared under the Act. The transmission of this document triggers an expedited process described in the Act. I urge Congress to undertake any necessary legislative action on this recommendation expeditiously and bipartisanly.

Proceeding with the repository program is necessary to protect public safety, health, and the Nation’s security. Completing this project would isolate highly radioactive materials now scattered throughout the Nation in a geologic repository at a remote location. In addition, the geologic repository would support our national security by disposing of nuclear waste from our defense facilities.

A deep geologic repository, such as Yucca Mountain, is essential 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.

If it becomes effective, this recommendation will permit the 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 commercially spent nuclear fuel that Congress passed in 1982.

This recommendation is the culmination of two decades of intense scientific scrutiny involving the application of an array of scientific and technical disciplines necessary and appropriate for this challenging undertaking. It is an undertaking mandated twice by Congress when it legislated the obligations that the successful pursuit of the repository program would redeem. Allowing this recommendation to come into effect will enable the beginning of the next phase of intense scrutiny of the project necessary to assure public health, safety, and security in Yucca Mountain and enhance the safety and security of the Nation as a whole.