Democratic New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury got into a verbal spat with Republican Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas during a Thursday hearing on energy policy.
Stansbury was speaking against a federal plan to facilitate a nuclear waste storage facility in her home state during a hearing held by the oversight committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy and Regulatory Affairs, but she refused to yield back to Fallon when her time to speak expired, sparking a verbal skirmish between the two.
While Holtec, the company building the facility, asserts that the final product will be “the epitome of structural and environmental safety,” its opponents criticize the federal government for forging ahead despite the Biden administration’s commitment to involving local communities in the selection of sites for nuclear waste storage facilities.
“Communities surrounding that site said we do not consent and do not want this nuclear waste facility,” Stansbury said as her time expired, referencing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) May 2023 decision to issue a permit for a temporary nuclear waste storage facility in Lea County, New Mexico.
“Excuse me, one moment, Mr. Chairman,” Stansbury said to Fallon as he interjected to remind her that her time to speak was up.
“No, your time has expired, your time has expired. Votes have been moved up, your time has expired,” Fallon said to Stansbury as she kept trying to speak.
“You’re out of order. You’re out of order. You’re completely out of order,” Fallon said as Stansbury claimed that the NRC’s decision was out of order. “You didn’t remove one bit of nuclear waste by being out of order here.”
Assuming it is completed, that facility will store spent nuclear fuel from U.S. nuclear plants for a period of 40 years stipulated in the NRC’s permit, according to Reuters. While the plan may help the American nuclear power industry, many citizens and politicians in the state are opposed to its presence, but the government is forging ahead despite the Biden administration’s commitment to involving local communities in the selection of sites for nuclear waste storage facilities.
Nuclear waste costs taxpayers billions because the government has been unable to devise and implement a plan for its long-term storage, according to the Council of State Governments. Until a lasting solution is reached, spent fuel is stored in more than 70 different repositories across the country on a temporary basis.