What to do, what to do? We’d be remiss to say that Yucca Mountain is completely, absolutely dead, because it really isn’t, but the decision to slow the pace on the used fuel repository has led to consequences that could easily have been foreseen:
Several legislatures of states with nuclear power plants are considering stopping or reducing payments to the federal government for nuclear waste management until the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository opens or another solution to the waste problem emerges.
We’ve mentioned before that the administration seems to have taken this cake out of the oven way too early, as the slow pace of Yucca Mountain at least forestalled this kind of action. Way down east, Mainers are moving even further with their demands:
Maine lawmakers passed a resolution yesterday asking the federal government to immediately reduce fees paid by electricity customers for managing spent nuclear fuel.
The resolution also urges the expedited establishment of two federally licensed interim storage facilities that would take possession of the waste and create an independent panel to assess the long-term prospects for handling military and civilian nuclear wastes.
We should note that the law requires the federal government to take the fuel. So if there is even a clue this won’t happen soon, trouble. Does industry think Maine is throwing a spanner into the works? Why, not at all:
"We were pleased to see this resolution adopted by the Maine Legislature. It clearly recognizes the important issues now facing the country in light of the situation with the Yucca Mountain repository," said John Keeley, an NEI spokesman.
Energy Secretary Chu needs to get that blue ribbon commission cracking. Without a solution, which may well remain Yucca Mountain – part of the commission’s brief will be to review the brown mound – the federal-state relationship will continue to deteriorate.
We don’t really think the administration is looking for a bus to throw the nuclear industry under, because there’s no plausible way to reach ambitious carbon emission reduction goals without nuclear energy. But we do think public policy has been badly warped – what Maine has done is being taken up, with variations, by Minnesota, Michigan and South Carolina, with no doubt many others to follow. It’s just what you don’t want to have happen.
Lillian Gish on the ice in Way Down East (1923), a D.W. Griffith film that, shall we say, owes a bit to Hardy’s Tess of The D’Urburvilles. It concerns a Maine girl betrayed by a rotter, taken in by a kind family, and eventually ejected onto the winter ice to meet her fate. Miss Gish had (I think) the longest starring career of any American movie actor, stretching from 1912 to 1987.