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Energy Policy Institute selected for $2 million award to study spent nuclear fuel storage

The Energy Policy Institute, based at Boise State University, and its partners have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to study consent-based siting approaches for consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. The U.S Department of Energy announced a total of $26 million in funding to support the work in 13 communities. Currently, spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants is stored at nuclear facilities across the country.

The Energy Policy Institute (EPI), the policy arm for the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, will lead a team of eight universities plus the National Tribal Energy Association, along with industry and public sector partners, in a newly established consortium named Common Ground. EPI is a non-partisan and evidence-based center that specializes in the social and technical dimensions of energy system change. EPI Director Kathy Araújo, the principal investigator (PI) for the project and a professor of Sustainable Energy Systems, Innovation and Policy at Boise State, will work with Co-PI and EPI Assistant Director Cassie Koerner, along with abroad, multi-institutional team to develop briefings and establish the consortium.

“The United States is at an important juncture in terms of how we store and manage nuclear waste,” said Araújo. “With this initiative, we will draw on practical insights from historical and current examples of large/complex infrastructure siting with our partners and collaborating communities to put forward recommendations for consent-based siting that accounts for local knowledge and priorities.”

Additional project team researchers include:

  • National Tribal Energy Association – Daniel Cardenas
  • Arizona State University – Majia Nadesan, Communication Studies
  • Colorado State University – Stephanie Malin, Sociology; and Mindy Hill,

Center for Environmental Justice

  • Idaho State University – Sarah Robey, History
  • Montana State University – Julia Haggerty, Earth Sciences; Lee Spangler, Energy Research Institute
  • University of Idaho – R. A. (Bob) Borrelli, Nuclear Engineering and Industrial Management
  • University of Michigan – Denia Djokic, Fastest Path to Zero Initiative/Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Science
  • University of Wyoming, Haub School of the Environment – Weston Eaton, Temple Stoellinger, and Steve Smutko.

DOE competitively selected diverse awardees from varied regions of the country that will each receive $2 million to explore better practices for siting interim storage facilities. Awardees will establish consent-based siting consortia that will elicit input to refine the department’s consent-based siting process, lead community and stakeholder engagement efforts, and develop strategies that support mutual learning.