In 1982, Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to remove spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants, in exchange for a fee, and to transport spent fuel to a permanent geologic repository beginning no later than January 31, 1998. The law also established an objective, scientifically-based process for selecting two repository sites. In the years following passage of the NWPA, DOE’s efforts to identify potential sites were met with strong local opposition. In 1987, Congress amended the NWPA and designated Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the sole site to be considered for a permanent geologic repository. A mix of funding shortfalls, the state of Nevada’s strong opposition to the Yucca siting, and other factors have prevented DOE from completing a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
President Trump’s budget includes, for the first time since 2009, funding of licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository. And now, an amendment bill to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, has made it out of the Energy & Commerce Committee. The primary change in this bill, called the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017 https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3053 , is the establishment of first-step storage sites that would be used on an interim basis until a long term site is ready for use. The Nuclear Policy Act of 1982 did not include permission for interim federal storage facilities. (h/t Judy Kaufman)
Mimi Walters' op ed can be found here.