A multi-part plan to handle radioactive waste from nuclear power plants was floated by the Department of Energy Jan. 14. The nascent policy spanning over ten years includes: -A pilot interim facility beginning construction in 2021; -A full-scale interim facility available by 2025; -A geologic repository in place by 2048; -Burying radioactive waste on site when there is a regional consensus; and -Prioritizing what waste is accepted at the sites, starting with shut-down reactors. Congress is the key to the strategy taking effect, as it requires legislation. \u201cThe strategy aligns with the pilot program proposed in the Senate Appropriations Committee\u2019s Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Bill and makes substantial progress toward implementing a long-term, consent-based solution for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel,\u201d Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated. After the department cancelled the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, facility in 2010, Congress held numerous hearings on nuclear waste. Many of those excoriated both the department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (which carried out the department\u2019s mandate) for cancelling the waste project. The administration seated the Blue Ribbon Commission on America\u2019s Nuclear Future to look into alternatives for Yucca Mountain. In January 2012, the commission advocated for a piecemeal approach, with more than one repository, and seeking consensus among regional inhabitants. The local consensus was sorely lacking in the plan to build the facility in Nevada. In May 2012, the administration chose Allison Macfarlane to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Macfarlane is an outspoken opponent of the geologic site at Yucca Mountain, but believes that geologic burial is the best solution to the waste problem. Chu maintains that nuclear power remains an \u201cintegral part\u201d of the administration\u2019s policy of all-inclusive energy sources. Outside of the uranium fuel cycle, Chu notes that nuclear plants \u201cproduce little carbon dioxide\u201d emissions. California\u2019s nuclear power plant owners have set up temporary on-site waste storage out of the spent fuel pools called \u201cdry cask\u201d containers. While facilities continue to produce radioactive waste, the casks are supposed to hold it until a federal facility for final burial becomes available. The former federal facility, at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was abandoned in 2010--due to geologic concerns--before any waste was stored at the site. Utility ratepayers have been paying the federal government for decades to establish a permanent waste site. California utilities, both regulated and municipal, remain in litigation with the government over final radioactive waste disposal. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) estimated the federal government could be liable for $50 billion if no permanent waste site is chosen. California ratepayers pay for dry cask storage on top of the federal dues. Both the state\u2019s operating nuclear facilities would otherwise have been shut down without expanded storage of nuclear waste, according to their operators, as room for spent fuel in the traditional water pool storage became too crowded in the last decade to accept more waste.