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2007 Policy Positions
of the Southern Legislative Conference



Currently, the United States generates 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.  In the South, nuclear power makes up 19.3 percent of energy generation.  New emission-free nuclear power plants are essential to help meet growing demand for electricity and to preserve the fuel and technology diversity that is the strength of the U.S. electric supply system.  No other source of electricity can provide the combined benefits of nuclear energy: large amounts of reliable and low-cost electricity, long-term price stability, and clean air benefits. 

Nuclear power plants generate electricity to serve one in five homes and businesses in the United States.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts that electricity demand in the United States will increase by 50 percent by 2025.  The South is the fastest growing region of the country.  According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 24 of the 25 expected applications for new reactor licenses will be in the 16 member states of the Southern Legislative Conference.

In 2002, the United States Congress approved, and the President signed into law, legislation establishing Yucca Mountain in Nye County, Nevada, as the site for the development of a repository for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW).  Nationally, there are 121 sites in 39 states which are currently storing SNF and HLW destined for geologic disposal at Yucca Mountain.  Regionally, there are 45 reactors at 25 sites, in 13 of the 16 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) states.  According to 2002 population figures, in those states, 24.4 million people live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. 

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 requires the DOE to build and operate a specially designed disposal facility for SNF and HLW from commercial and defense activities.  The federal Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) was established by Congress in 1982 and is funded by electricity customers to pay for the disposal of used nuclear fuel from commercial power plants.  Since 1983, electricity consumers have committed more than $26 billion in fees to the NWF.  Congress’s current budgetary process is taking consumer money from the NWF and using it for other, unrelated programs.  The federal government defaulted on its obligation to begin moving used fuel from power plants in 1998.  In addition, over the past 11 years, Congress has provided $1.23 billion less than the program has requested.  Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives approved full funding of $494.5 million for the Yucca Mountain in FFY 2008.  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $446.1 million for FFY 2008, almost $50 million less than what was requested by the DOE. 

While the government remains in default, electricity consumers are paying millions of dollars for additional on-site storage in addition to the $26 billion already committed to the repository program. 


The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments (SLC) urges federal and state policymakers to espouse regulatory, legislative, and fiscal policies that support:

  • Reaffirmation of  support for the development and funding of Yucca Mountain, as the repository for the disposal of high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel;
  • The review of the 77,000 metric ton limit to allow use of the mountain’s full capacity, as determined by technical experts;
  • Support management of land in and around the repository that is most advantageous to the proper operation of the Yucca Mountain program;
  • Mitigation of regulatory risks associated with the deployment of new advanced reactors;
  • Investment stimulus to support new nuclear plant construction;
  • Funding for nuclear energy research and development, including engineering and design work for advanced reactor designs; and
  • Reform of the Nuclear Waste Fund by restoring the fund to its original budgetary status; thus ensuring that fees paid by electricity customers are used solely to pay for the used fuel management program.

The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments forwards its position to the president of the United States, members of Congress and the secretary of energy.



Adopted by the Southern Legislative Conference, July 17, 2007, Williamsburg, Virginia.

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