Diary

Nuclear Tennis: Obama serves Power Plant, Sanford returns Yucca

What’s he up to?

President Obama next week will announce a loan guarantee to build the first nuclear power plant in the United States in almost three decades, an administration official said Friday.’

Partly, he’s treading water.  A loan guarantee only allows The Southern Co. to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license, a process which will take years.  In the meantime Obama pleases the Right by introducing fresh options (finally!) for energy production.  The Left knows he’s throwing us a bone that will rot in the environmental licensing Black Hole.  Mostly, though, this is about Yucca Mountain.

Just yesterday South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (hasn’t he been kicked out of office yet??) announced he ‘is protesting the Obama administration’s planned termination of the Yucca Mountain Project, including asking the state’s attorney general to “pursue every legal action possible” to stop the shutdown.’

South Carolina, like a lot of other states, is temporarily storing a lot of nuclear waste, waiting for Yucca Mountain to receive it all.  However, Obama at the beginning of this year actually fulfilled one campaign promise and formed a commission to study other options for disposing of nuclear waste.

We’re done with Yucca. We need to be looking at other alternatives,” said Carol Browner, the top White House energy adviser. “The debate over Yucca Mountain is over as the president has made clear.”’

So Obama (and Harry Reid) say Yucca is off the table.  This sounds very good to Nevadans.  However, Obama doesn’t really hold the power on this issue.

‘Yucca Mountain remains on the books as the law of the land, singled out in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, the so-called “Screw Nevada” bill, as the nation’s dumping ground for such waste primarily from civilian reactors. The law states that only if the Energy Department declares the site unsuitable can it be withdrawn from consideration.

Moreover, the Energy Department still has an application to license Yucca Mountain as a repository pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Just last week judges met to review the merits of the application. The process that began in 2008 is expected to take three more years. A six-month deposition period begins in February.’

Yucca is a zombie issue, impossible to kill.  Sanford, desperate politician that he is, has apparently done his homework and has found an issue with legs.

Watch the bouncing Yucca Mountain ball go back and forth.  Obama (and Harry Reid) want us to re-elect them so that the horrible Yucca can be kept at bay indefinitely.  This is a card Reid loves to play, emphasizing his importance in derailing Yucca.  The fact is that almost anyone representing Nevada would do the same.  Sen. Ensign is as solidly against Yucca as Reid is.  However, Reid may have a point.  Nevadans have never wanted Yucca, have protested its designation vehemently, and had their refusal to allow Yucca overridden in the U.S. Congress.  If Harry had been Majority Leader then, Yucca would have never proceeded.  Nevada would not have had to bring court case after court case in an effort to stall the project.  The undead Yucca would have had his head removed a long time ago.

Nevadans hatred of, and aggrieved sense of injustice about, Yucca will not be enough to save Harry.  He and Obama are clutching at straws if they’re raising Yucca for re-election reasons.  However, the nuclear energy industry, sadly, will never succeed until the issue of waste disposal is solved.  Going round and around about Yucca is a potentially losing gambit because Nevadans will fight tooth and nail against this imposition on our state sovereignty.  When will some politician champion French-style waste reprocessing so that less waste needs disposing of?  And why can’t the states that generated the waste bury it in their own backyard instead of trying to hijack Nevada’s backyard?  Somehow I think Obama, resident of a state sitting on a lot of waste, will not be that champion.