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White House Objects to Mixed-Oxide Plant Funding in House Bill

The White House has threatened to veto a House bill that contains funding to maintain construction of a controversial nuclear plant in South Carolina.

The veto warning, published on Wednesday, was contained in the Office of Management and Budget's Statement of Administration Policy on the House Appropriations Committee's fiscal 2015 energy and water spending bill, which passed out of committee last month, the Aiken Standard reported on Thursday.

The appropriations bill contains $345 million to continue building a facility at the Savannah River Site that is intended to convert surplus weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide reactor fuel. The Obama administration, however, wants to mothball the project and search for another way to dispose of the 34 metric tons of plutonium, which it is obligated to get rid of under a treaty with Russia.

"The administration strongly objects to language that would require the Secretary of Energy to continue construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility," the statement reads.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it would cost $30 billion to build and operate the mixed-oxide fabrication plant.

"The administration plans to move the facility into cold stand-by in [fiscal] 2015 as it continues to explore the potential for more cost effective alternatives while maintaining the U.S. government's commitment to disposing of unneeded plutonium," the OMB statement says.

However, the White House does not have much congressional support for this plan of action. Bills in both the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-led Senate would continue to fund construction of the MOX plant in the next fiscal year.

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