Despite Obama's campaign promises the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository lives!
WASHINGTON -- The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan was kept alive Tuesday when a panel of judges ruled the Obama administration does not have the authority to withdraw the project without permission from Congress.
Federal law requires the Department of Energy to apply for a waste repository license and for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the application and rule on its merits unless lawmakers decide otherwise, according to a three-judge board that hears commission licensing matters.
The decision is a setback for the Obama administration, which has been moving to shut down the Nevada project in fulfillment of a campaign pledge to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a longtime Yucca foe.
The court may be able to prevent the application from being withdrawn, but they can't force the DOE to move it forward:
The program has been zeroed out of President Barack Obama's 2011 budget, and the hundred or so people remaining at work in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., are retiring, transferring or preparing to be laid off.
But the political winds may shift:
Reid's Republican opponent in their Senate race, Sharron Angle, wants to develop Yucca as a site for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel for use as energy.
Angle opposes using the site as a "dumping ground" for nuclear waste -- something Southern Nevadans have fought for years -- but argues hundreds of jobs can be created at Yucca if it becomes a center for nuclear energy generation.
Tuesday's ruling by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board promises months more of legal maneuvering over the repository that seems certain to extend beyond the November elections, said Lake Barrett, a retired DOE manager who was a director of the Yucca program from 1993 to 2002.
"This is a long way from being over," Barrett said. "This was round two of a 15-rounder."
My modest proposal - Obama can fulfill two promises by transferring the Gitmo prisoners to Yucca Mountain.