Federal Water Tap, January 30: Nuclear Waste and Drought

Haste and Waste
The Commission on America’s Nuclear Future released its report on how to handle the nation’s growing pile of nuclear waste. Co-chaired by Lee Hamilton, a former Congressman, and Brent Scowcroft, a former National Security Advisor, the commission made numerous recommendations that would require action from the administration or Congress.

Since halting work on the Yucca Mountain disposal facility, the need for a new strategy is “urgent”, according to the commission, because “this generation has a fundamental ethical obligation to avoid burdening future generations with the entire task of finding a safe permanent solution for managing hazardous nuclear materials they had no part in creating.”

On Wednesday, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hear testimony from the co-chairs about the report. On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will do the same.

Energy: 2012
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will also hold a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the year’s energy trends.

La Nina
NASA satellite images show cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific, indicating the peak of the La Nina phenomenon. One NASA scientist said that “this La Niña could deepen the drought in the already parched Southwest.”

Bureau of Reclamation forecasters have done a 180 on projections of surplus water for Lake Mead, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In December, the reservoir behind Hoover Dam was predicted to rise 11 feet this year. Now, it is forecast to fall 13 feet by next January.

The National Water and Climate Center’s water supply outlook for the western U.S. can be found here.

Keystone
During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing last Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State Kerri-Ann Jones explained the department’s permitting process and the rationale for rejecting a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Water Reuse
The National Research Council published a report on recycled municipal wastewater and its role as part of the national water supply.

Water Pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new tool to help the public learn who is dumping chemicals into which bodies of water. Data is available for 2007-2010.

Fracking Study
The EPA has extended to March 12 the deadline for public comments on its draft study of groundwater contamination from natural gas drilling near a Wyoming town. The agency also announced that it will test groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania as it continues its investigation into claims of water contaminated because of hydraulic fracturing.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

Author: Brett Walton  is a Seattle-based reporter for Circle of Blue. He writes our Federal Water Tap, a weekly breakdown of U.S. policy. Interests: Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Pricing, Infrastructure.

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