A U.S. federal appeals court on Tuesday said that the Energy Department may no longer charge consumers fees totaling roughly $750 million annually to underwrite a nuclear waste-disposal effort that does not exist, the New York Times reported.
Although a law on the books since the 1980s allowed electricity companies to collect the federal fee from energy customers, President Obama's decision to stop work on the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository in Nevada has allowed the fund to build up some $30 billion in unused monies. Roughly $7 billion has been spent, according to the Tuesday report.
"Until the department comes to some conclusion as to how nuclear wastes are to be deposited permanently, it seems quite unfair to force petitioners to pay fees for a hypothetical option," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote in his decision.
As used nuclear fuel is building up in storage at reactor sites across the nation, Congress remains deadlocked on the repository matter, largely along party lines. The Energy Department had hoped to begin accepting fuel for disposal by 1998, but now is looking at opening a site for discarding waste by 2048, the Times reported.