Walden, Shimkus praise House subcommittee approval of nuclear waste bill

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), ranking member of the committee’s Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, applauded last week’s subcommittee approval of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act.

H.R. 2699, introduced in May by Rep. Shimkus and bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), would make major revisions to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. The House Energy and Commerce Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee passed H.R. 2699 during a Sept. 26 markup of 15 environment bills.

“For the 121 communities and 39 states across America where nuclear waste sits idle, today’s advancing of the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act brings us one step closer to delivering on a long overdue promise to finally address this national issue,” Reps. Walden and Shimkus said in a joint statement. “Building on the progress made last Congress, we are encouraged by the bipartisan support on the Energy and Commerce Committee for this much-needed legislation.”

At the same time, Reps. Walden and Shimkus voiced concerns about several bills among the 15 that the subcommittee also advanced dealing with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), what the Environmental Protection Agency defines as a group of man-made chemicals for which exposure to can lead to adverse human health effects.

The lawmakers stressed the need for members to address their concerns before moving to a full committee markup on those bills, which included the PFAS Testing Act of 2019, H.R. 2608 and the PFAS Accountability Act of 2019, H.R. 2626, among others.

“While concerns remain about the additional legislation advanced through the subcommittee today — particularly the unintended consequences that non-science based decisions on PFAS may have on consumer products and the economy — we will continue to work with our colleagues where we can to address these issues before the full committee markup,” said Reps. Walden and Shimkus.

The lawmakers noted that while all members seek protections for the environment and their constituents, they think such protections would be best achieved through a measured approach that relies on sound science.

“Where we will not be able to agree is on bills that are void of scientific understanding and whose scope opens the door to uncertainty and unsupported regulation,” Reps. Walden and Shimkus said.

Meanwhile, H.R. 2699 also remains under consideration in several other House committees.