Yucca Mountain, that is, which has been getting something of a rough treatment lately. Fears about storing tons of used nuclear fuel there have been unfounded, and though the Department of Energy has submitted a license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency for the big brown mound, political support for it has drained away a bit. The end of the tale is not yet written, of course, and what wanes can also wax.
So it is heartening to see some editorials emerging that explicitly supports Yucca Mountain. This one comes from the Daily News, “serving the lower Columbia,” meaning Washington state:
Senate leaders, in particular, have shown a determination to block the construction of a national repository for nuclear waste near Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Last week, a Senate panel cut the administration’s fiscal 2009 budget request for the project from $494.7 million to $386.5 million. If the lower figure holds, it will mark the second straight year that Congress has sliced more than $100 million from the Yucca Mountain budget. And, given Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s support of the cut, it likely will hold.
Senator Reid, in most respects a strong supporter of nuclear energy, takes his political cues from his constituents in Nevada and in Reid’s view, they don’t want Yucca Mountain.
The government’s promotion of more nuclear power is on a collision course with Congress’ failure to move forward on the construction of the waste dump in a more timely manner. As a practical matter, members must know that there can be no revival of the U.S. nuclear industry until and unless the completion of this project is assured.
The editorial is entitled “Yucca Mountain stalling only delays inevitable nuclear power push,” and we like (and agree with) that word “inevitable”. Congress is looking at ways to complement Yucca Mountain as a storage repository, so we’ll refrain from wholeheartedly endorsing the “stalls” part. But it’s an on-target editorial.
Well, (at least today – as far as we can tell), we know John McCain is in favor of Yucca Mountain and Barack Obama against it. How is that playing in Nevada? According to SurveyUSA, McCain is leading by four points (45-41). That’s within the margin of error and really suggests nothing other than that Nevadans are not single issue voters. (Bush took the state by three points in 2004.) For all the passion the Nevada delegation puts behind blocking Yucca Mountain, the issue does not create a decisive shift in votes nor even move the needle much.
Map might be a little hard to read. Yucca Mountain is that dot north of Las Vegas. If you find your way from a hangover and ill-advised marriage in Vegas to the inevitable divorce in Reno, by all means wave at Yucca Mountain en route.