An empty hole in the ground dug at a cost of $15 billion is the very definition of government waste. Yucca Mountain is a nuclear-waste repository built in a desolate area of the Nevada desert that has never been used because of the “not in my backyard” attitude of Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate leader. The president’s new energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, made one of his first promises a reassurance to Mr. Reid that he’ll continue the administration’s “anywhere but Yucca” policy.
A county in Texas might agree to host a new storage project, and there’s a rumor that a county in Mississippi might be interested.
Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, the subcommittee’s chairman, wasn’t impressed. “What makes you believe,” he asked, “that another consent-based approach somewhere in the country is not going to end up 30 years later $15 billion in the hole, just like we have with Yucca Mountain?” President Obama’s refusal to use a ready-to-go repository located in one of the nation’s most desolate spots suggests that the administration wants every turn on the path of nuclear progress to lead back to Square One.
The president zeroed out Yucca Mountain funding in 2011 for political rather than technical or safety reasons, according to the Government Accountability Office. Since then, the House has kept the project alive by funding a continuing review of the suitability of Yucca to warehouse spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s 104 nuclear-power plants, currently in storage on the plants’ grounds. A 335-81 vote last month preserved $25 million for the review.
Nuclear energy produces no greenhouses gases, the terror of environmentalists. Efforts to impose impediments to nuclear power, then, makes clear the president’s intent isn’t to prevent “global warming,” but to hobble an affordable competitor to solar, wind and biofuels, the inefficient and expensive alternatives so fashionable on the left.
From The WSJ:
In a major rebuke on Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an unusual writ of mandamus, which is a direct judicial order compelling the government to fulfill a legal obligation. This "extraordinary remedy" is nominally about nuclear waste, writes Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the 2-1 majority, yet the case "raises significant questions about the scope of the Executive's authority to disregard federal statutes."
In re: Aiken County is another episode in the political soap opera about spent-fuel storage at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, an Energy Department project that requires the approval of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1983 requires that the NRC503780.BY +4.76% "shall consider" the license application for the repository and "shall issue a final decision approving or disapproving" it within three years of submission. Yucca has since been infamously stop-and-go amid opposition from the green lobby and not-in-my-backyard Nevadans and Californians. This particular application was submitted to the NRC in June 2008.
Mr. Obama promised to kill Yucca as a candidate and the Energy Department tried to yank the license application after his election. But an NRC safety board made up of administrative judges ruled unanimously that this was illegal unless Congress passed a law authorizing it. Mr. Obama then teamed up with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to stack the NRC with anti-Yucca appointees.
Although Congress appropriated money to conduct the review, the NRC flat-out refused, in violation of the three-year statutory deadline. "By its own admission, the Commission has no current intention of complying with the law," writes Judge Kavanaugh, despite a 2011 ruling from a separate D.C. Circuit panel instructing the NRC to follow through. The ruling also invited Congress "to clarify this issue if it wished to do so."