Skip to main content

Another Letter on Yucca Mountain

sensenbrenner2 Yesterday, we told you about a letter sent by 91 legislators to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. In this story about the letter, writer Steve Tetreault uncovers another letter writing effort:

Meanwhile, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., was seeking lawmakers to sign a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko questioning whether three of the commissioners might have "pre-judged" the Yucca issue.

In a draft copy obtained Tuesday, Sensenbrenner contends that three nominees who were confirmed faced "intense pressure" from Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., at their confirmation hearing in February.

We were there at that hearing and it’s the closest we’ve seen Sen. Reid come to inserting himself into Yucca Mountain issues – and he wasn’t even there, as Boxer relayed the question from him to the NRC candidates.

However, we’d quibble with the “intense pressure” characterization. Reid’s question was whether the three candidates would second-guess DOE’s decision to shutter Yucca Mountain. All three said no. That was it – we don’t recall any follow-up on the issue from Boxer or anyone else at the hearing.

Not second-guessing the decision and voting to affirm Yucca Mountain as the used fuel repository (because closing it conflicts with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act – see the post below for more on this) are two different things and do not necessarily contradict each other. But we grant that Sensenbrenner is taking care here:

"We think it was an inappropriate commitment," Sensenbrenner's draft letter said. "The commission should examine each case on its merits, rather than pre-judging an argument. We hope the entire Commission considers the ... decision in an objective manner."

We hope so, too. We took a look at Sensenbrenner’s Web site to see if he had posted his letter. Not yet. Check here later in the day to see if he has it up. (He has on his home page a little doomsday clock counting the national debt – quite hypnotic.)

Sen. James Sensenbrenner wants you to know.

Comments

Pete said…
Whether or not the commissioners were pressured to pre-judge the Yucca Mountain issue may not be as important as the fact that they HAVE indeed pre-judged the issue. This was covered in another Steve Tetreault column last week in the Pahrump Valley Times:

Three NRC commissioners -- William Magwood, George Apostolakis and William Ostendorff -- were asked directly at their Senate confirmation hearings in February whether they would "second guess" DOE on Yucca Mountain. Each said no.

But (Lake) Barrett (former director of Yucca Mountain program) said it was "highly irregular" for nominees to be asked flat out during confirmation how they might rule on an issue, and the commissioners may be challenged on those grounds.

"The three new commissioners will have to decide whether they can actually vote on the matter since many people think they were compromised during the confirmation process," Barrett said.


http://www.pahrumpvalleytimes.com/2010/Jul-02-Fri-2010/news/36702668.html
SteveK9 said…
This has nothing to do with Nuclear energy, but since you chose to mention it, I wonder if Sensenbrenner had his cute clock ticking during the time that Bush turned Clinton surpluses into deficits, primarily through tax cuts for wealthy individuals? During a period of GDP growth when we should have continued with surpluses.
DocForesight said…
@SteveK9 -- Kindly define "wealthy".

I would prefer to keep my comments restricted to the subject of this blog, but if you insist on opening that door, someone may step in.

OTOH, there are plenty of political or current-event blogs and sites on which to opine about those matters. Just direct people to the site you prefer to engage you in that discussion. Fair?

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…