A group of 17 Senators are puzzled:
Over $7.7 billion has been spent researching Yucca Mountain as a potential repository site and neither the NAS, the NWTRB, nor any of our National Labs involved in conducting studies and evaluating data have concluded that there is any evidence to disqualify Yucca Mountain as a repository.
That’s certainly true. This comes from a letter written by the Senators (all Republican) to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. And they’re doing what a opposing minority should be doing – making the administration explain itself.
As recently as August 2008, all ten National Lab directors, including you, signed a letter on the essential role of nuclear energy which advocated continuing the licensing of a geologic repository at Yucca Mountain.
Again, true, though the “letter” was really more of a white paper.
So, what would they like to have happen?
Given this history, President Obama's memoranda that science will guide public policy and his commitment to an unprecedented level of openness, we find it difficult to reconcile your statement that Yucca Mountain is "not an option" made after only 6 weeks in office.
Please respond to the questions and provide the information requested in the attachment by June 1, 2009. We are eager to gain a better understanding of the basis for your decision and the process that was followed to arrive at that conclusion. Thank you in advance for your timely response on this matter.
You can read the questions in the letter. Rest assured, they’re responsive to the the Senators’ annoyance and, we should note, rather put Chu on the spot. We think this group is on the right track – it includes John McCain (Ariz.), James Inhofe (Okla.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) - and the DOE’s puzzling decision may well get a fuller hearing. Let’s keep an eye on this one.
Senator Inhofe has questions. We await the answers eagerly.