Here’s Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.):
Today’s decision affirms what I have been saying all along - Yucca Mountain remains the legally designated national repository for spent nuclear fuel and high level defense waste, and the Department of Energy has no authority to withdraw the license application. Only Congress can change the law.
And Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Over the last 30 years, Congress, independent studies and previous administrations have all pointed to, voted for and funded Yucca Mountain as the nation's best option for a nuclear repository and in concert with those decisions, billions of dollars and countless work hours have been spent at Hanford and nuclear waste sites across the country in an effort to treat and package nuclear waste that will be sent here.
In case you’re wondering about the attention from Washington state politicians, Murray provides the hint – Hanford, a product of the Manhattan Project, and its used fuel, destined for Yucca Mountain. (Hanford’s history is a big subject. Start here for more.)
DOE is not happy:
The Department of Energy said it plans to appeal the ruling to the full five-member regulatory commission board, whose members are presidential appointees confirmed by the Senate.
"We believe the administrative board's decision is wrong and believe that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will reverse that decision," DOE spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller said.
And here’s the response you’ve been waiting for, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.):
Reid said he was disappointed but that Tuesday's ruling was hardly the last word.
"The full commission will likely take another look at the motion to withdraw the license application and make the final decision on behalf of the NRC in the coming months," Reid said.
Well, we’ll see. The decision simply says that only Congress can change the terms of the Nuclear Waste Act – which designated Yucca Mountains as the used fuel repository – and that has always seemed the determinative factor. Clearly, it still does, so it will be interesting to see what the commission can do about it, if anything.
Speaking of Nevada and Yucca Mountain, we watched Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face show the other night (it’s in the fourth segment on the page linked above) to see if she would have something to say about nuclear energy. Indeed she did.
She’s a genuinely surprising candidate, as her all-in nuclear energy advocacy had always seemed a toxic subject in Nevada. While Sen. Harry Reid is not anti-nuclear energy per se, he focuses his attention elsewhere, which has seemed the standard path for politicians out that way.
Here’s what she said:
“Let’s talk about the potential that Harry Reid has actually destroyed by demonizing the nuclear energy industry. There is a pot of money out there and the courts agree with me, that we have some potential for some job creation here and for some diversification of the economy if we make some lemonade out of lemons and we have a perfect opportunity right now in this economic climate to create some jobs.
“I believe yes, they should stop fighting [the Yucca Mountain license application]. We have some potential here. We have some science now that has far outpaced the idea of a dump site here to a retrieval site and a reprocessing [site]… .”
She got cut off here. We’ve cleaned this up a bit to ride over stumbles (and Ralston’s interjections).
We don’t agree with her comment about Reid, but however one cuts it, this is a strong endorsement in a state where one might not expect it. (To be honest, we’ve seen polls that show Nevada not all that nuclear unfriendly, even against Yucca Mountain.) Regardless, and as we said before, Surprising.
A beauty shot of the not notably beautiful Yucca Mountain.