SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Following comments from more than 200 people around the U.S., the Department of Energy says they’re changing the process to select waste disposal sites. The department will consider input from communities as they work to select a site to store the nation’s nuclear waste.

“Prioritizing constructive, community-based input around consent-based solutions has shaped our roadmap for advancing our nation’s spent nuclear fuel management,” Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff, said in a press release. “This process deepens our commitment to transparency and equity and moves us closer to our clean energy future.”

Tens of thousands of containers of nuclear waste have already been stored in New Mexico, near Carlsbad. Residents and local politicians have spoken out against the storage, and state lawmakers recently passed a new law to try to give the state more say in the federal negotiations over waste storage.

Additionally, hundreds of people, including Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham have offered comments on using a “consent-based” process to select a site for waste storage. The idea is to allow communities to have more say in whether or not waste is stored in their area.

“New Mexico remains firmly opposed to the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste within or near our borders,” Lujan Grisham wrote in her letter to the U.S. Department of Energy. New Mexico “remains willing to work with the Biden
Administration toward a meaningful and comprehensive consent-based solution to the national problem of the permanent disposal of nuclear waste,” she wrote.

Following comments on the proposed update to the site selection process, the U.S. Department of Energy says it’s changing how the department focuses on community input moving forward. Ultimately, Congress has directed the Office of Nuclear Energy to select a site to store the nation’s nuclear waste – and that remains unchanged. But the latest developments indicate federal regulators are open to considering the needs of locals.