[Comments on Legal Issues Concerning DOE Decision To Delay Plans for Work Related to Second Nuclear Waste Repository, Simpson Letter]

B-223315,B-223370: Sep 12, 1986

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GAO commented on the Department of Energy's (DOE) decision to postpone plans for any site-specific work related to a second nuclear waste repository. GAO noted that: (1) before the decision to postpone work plans, DOE stated that it would be unable to meet the statutory deadlines in 1989 and 1990 for the second repository; (2) since DOE has no authority to change or eliminate deadlines imposed on it by legislation, the 1989 and 1990 deadlines will remain binding unless Congress acts; and (3) although failure to meet the statutory deadlines would violate the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the act prescribes no consequences for such noncompliance. GAO held that: (1) if Congress agrees with DOE that siting activities should be postponed, it should consider amending the act to change or eliminate the deadlines the act imposes; and (2) if Congress wants DOE to comply with the deadlines, it should consider legislation specifically mandating compliance with the deadlines.