October 21, 1999

The Honorable Trent Lott
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
SR-487 Russell Senate Ofc Bldg
Washington D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Lott:

On behalf of the nation's Governor's we write in opposition to provisions contained in S. 1287, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1999. Specifically, we object to Section 103, which removes authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set radiation protection standards at the proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility.

Section 103 of S. 1287 is in direct conflict with National Governors' Association (NGA) Policy NR-8. Environmental Compliance at Federal Facilities, which was unanimously reaffirmed at the Governors' annual meeting in August. A copy of NR-8 is enclosed.

NGA policy is based on the premise that "[t]he problems of environmental cleanup and compliance at federal facilities are deep-rooted. Contamination and environmental degradation are the result of years of mismanagement and neglect. They reflect noncompliance with federal policies, unclear or inadequate laws and regulations, institutional attitudes that devalue environmental concerns, and the reluctance of federal agencies to work with federal and state regulators."

NGA policy NR-8 recommends that "Congress should amend applicable federal laws to ensure that all wastes, including radioactive wastes and munitions are within the purview of state and EPA authorities [emphasis added]. Efforts should be made to coordinate all federal requirements. In addition, Congress should require that all quasi-federal sovereign businesses and corporations meet the same environmental compliance standards as other federal agencies."

Section 103 removes EPA authority to set radiation standards at the proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility and is contrary to the NGA policy recommendation that both EPA and states should have authority over radioactive wastes. It is a disturbing precedent that could lead to further dilution of state and EPA authority to set environmental standards at federal facilities and coordinate clean-up activities in all 50 states.

We urge your reconsideration of these provisions prior to full Senate action. We welcome the opportunity to work with you in developing a final bill that will result in improved environmental regulation of all federal facilities. Please do not hesitate to call us directly if we can be of assistance, of call Chris Kadas at NGA at 202/624-5349


Governor Michael O. Leavitt

Governor Parris N. Glendening
Vice Chairman

Governor Kenny C. Guinn
Committee on Natural Resources

Governor Thomas J. Vilsack
Vice Chairman
Committee on Natural Resources