Skip to main content

The Washington Post on Yucca Mountain

washington_post_logo The editorial board takes a look at the Obama administration’s decision to reduce funding for Yucca Mountain:

If the president's vision for a clean energy future is to be believed or is to come to fruition, nuclear energy must be a part of the mix, and the safe disposal of its radioactive waste must be given more serious consideration.

They see the politics:

The president keeps a campaign promise to shut the site down. By doing so, he pleases Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). And he potentially secures the swing state's place in the blue column; the Silver State hadn't voted for the Democratic presidential nominee since 1996 until it went to Mr. Obama in 2008.

And they acknowledge how President Obama might proceed:

He also called for redirecting resources to improve the safety and security at plants around the country until a long-term solution is found. Those alternatives, however unlikely the first one is, are more than he offered when he cut off Yucca Mountain's funding.

Which is true, although likely how he’ll proceed. Obama has shown himself to be a remarkably consistent thinker.

The Post does not acknowledge that the Yucca Mountain license is still in progress – there’s enough funding to allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to proceed with its review – and thus the repository is not precisely dead. But their response is judicious – and, we should note, influential. It will be interesting to see how much Yucca Mountain percolates through the next few news cycles. If the decision comes to seem a triumph of politics over science – a big no-no for the administration – then some further explanation may be forthcoming.

Comments

Rod Adams said…
Given the challenges that the NRC faces with regard to adequate resources to review licenses for new plants, especially under the continuing resolution funding that has existed for all of FY2009, I strongly oppose wasting precious regulator hours on a project that is not going to be constructed.

My interpretation of the current politics of the situation is that there are organizations strongly opposed to new plant development who recognize that the NRC is a bottleneck that can be used to slow that development. Slowing down that development adds cost and uncertainty and enables continued sales of coal and natural gas while the licensing processes are delayed.

I think that a proper position for the NEI is to advocate for the license application to be suspended and shelved. If at some time in the future, the politics change and Yucca for some odd reason gets reintroduced as an option, then the process can be restored. For now, though, there are much higher priority items that need to be handled by our limited pool of regulatory resources.
Anonymous said…
Congress should restore the funding. The NWPA is still in effect. The feds are obliged to follow the law.

If they don't, at minimum they should refund all of the contributions put into the waste fund since the requirements to pay into it were set. What's another 10 or 20 billion to an Administration already squandering trillions?

On this point:

"Obama has shown himself to be a remarkably consistent thinker."

The only times he is "remarkably consistent" is when he has a teleprompter in front of him so he can read the words someone else is feeding him. Thinker? I doubt it, unless it's thinking about another campaign.
Anonymous said…
"If they don't, at minimum they should refund all of the contributions put into the waste fund since the requirements to pay into it were set."

I assume you mean they should refund it to the ratepayers, to whom the NWPA waste fee was passed on in electric bills. Otherwise it would be an unearned windfall for utilities on the backs of taxpayers.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…