Thursday, July 07, 2011

House blasts Yucca Mountain nuclear waste decision

You don't normally find appropriations bills to be very pithy reading, but the House Energy and Water Full Committee FY12 budget report released yesterday rips the Obama administration in amazingly blunt and harsh language for its decision to shut down Yucca Mountain [right, credit US DOE] as the nation's planned nuclear waste repository. The House Committee includes funds in the budget plan to continue the licensing process for the Nevada waste site:

"Put simply, the Administration's anti-Yucca Mountain stance has no scientific basis, is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars, and may be illegal. The Committee rejects the Administration's plans to shut down the Yucca Mountain license application process and includes funds in the recommendation to continue the process. Once the full merits of this site are understood, and not before, the nation should determine whether to move forward with full construction of the site."

"The Administration has unilaterally decided upon a path to close the Yucca Mountain license
application process, a decision which, if allowed, would waste over two decades of study and a public investment of over $15 billion, plus tens of billions in additional fines and penalties. The Committee strongly opposes the Administration's plans and includes funding in this recommendation under ''Nuclear Waste Disposal'' and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue the license application."
The Committee recommends a budget of $25 million for FY12, an increase of $25 million over what the Administration requested. Read the entire section on pages 75-77 in the budget report.


  1. Cattle Lena9:13 PM

    This was another totally political decision - for the benefit of Harry Reid. Being president of the Senate carries a lot of political power. There's no science in that decision. Harry doesn't care that the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on the project are going down the tubes. Is this a great system or what?

  2. Of course the budget report is blunt and harsh, considering who authored it. That's politics. And it's irrational or naïve to somehow expect to have government work without politics. The same Republicans who decry the lack of science underpinnings here are currently gutting science budgets and pushing anti-science education.

    Lest we forget, Yucca wasn't sited originally based on the best science. Better locations and options were ignored base on, yes, politics.

  3. Cattle Lena8:55 PM

    "Of course the budget report is blunt and harsh, considering who authored it."

    I assume you are taking a swipe at the Republican majority on the House committee. Rather than make this into a name-calling exercise, I'd rather focus on the issue. The paragraphs quoted above from the House Committee report are generally consistent with what has happened during the last 40 years.

    If anyone doesn't know and is interested, Google Yucca Mountain and read about the many actions that have been taken to find a suitable location for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in the U.S.

    Of course there are politics in government - all levels of politics and at all levels of government. It's not difficult to conclude that this is an example of the highest level. As a result of the "policy" decision to close the Yucca Mountain site, decades of effort and billions of our tax dollars will be wasted and the U.S will still be unprepared to manage the disposal of high-level radioactive waste. To make matters even worse, because of the huge national debt that now exists, our elected officials are going to have to find ways to reduce spending.

  4. Matt Cannon7:57 AM

    There are also active faults at Yucca Mountain.

    Of course an "active" fault means that it has ruptured in the last 10,000 years. However the waste that is proposed to be stored there will be radioactive for many millions of years.

    It is a tough choice.

    The Wipp site in southern NM, near Carlsbad where the military stores its low level waste is in a more stable geologic setting.

  5. Cattle Lena12:03 PM

    True, but it's in a karst area that gets 14 in. of rain.

    No site will be perfect. Other countries are managing their wastes - and probably in less desirable places than large parts of the American West.

  6. Anonymous12:39 PM

    The American west is not the east coasts dumping ground.

  7. Nevadans have used every possible ploy to kill the Yucca Mountain project, which is arguably the best prospect for storing nuclear waste. Years ago Congress removed all other potential sites from consideration and invested billions in study of the geology and hydrology of Yucca Mtn. Unfortunately paranoia and misinformation concerning faulting and volcanism have supported Nevada's (and Sen. Reid's) refusal to allow the project to move ahead. And now with the need to cut the federal budget, it's a prime time to remove all funding. The Republicans' denial of the science and Reid's political stance are now mutually supporting the closure of the project. Why even spend 12 million at this point except to feed some bureaucratic boondoggle accomplishing nothing? The existing depository can be reopened in the future when some sanity returns to Washington.