[Excerpt from EESI Mid-Week Update, a Washinton newsletter]

Andrew Lundquist, majority staff director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said at a panel discussion hosted by the National Energy Resources Organization on Jan. 26 that interim high-level nuclear waste storage legislation will be introduced fairly soon. Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) plans to work with other members, most notably ranking member Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), to reach a compromise, he said.

Bingamanís support is considered critical for the 67 votes needed in the Senate to overcome an expected presidential veto of the nuclear waste legislation, which directs the nationís spent nuclear fuel to be sent to a temporary above-ground facility at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Later at a Q&A session, Lundquist said the administration has to start working with Congress to resolve the issue, which the nuclear industry has been pushing for because of shortage of on-site storage space.

For the House Commerce Committee, too, nuclear waste legislation is a priority issue, according to GOP counsel Cathy Van Way, who said the committee hopes to move H.R. 45 early.

Noting the strong support in the House for the legislation, Sue Sheridan, committee minority counsel said the issue calls for a thorough hearing in the wake of the Department of Energyís viability assessment of the Yucca Mountain site and the recent court decisions on the payment of damages by DOE for failing to remove spent nuclear fuel to a centralized storage facility as mandated.

Conspicuous by not touching upon the contentious topic was Bob Simon, Democratic staff director of the Senate Energy Committee.