Forget Rushmore – Put Obama on Yucca Mountain

 Yesterday President Obama airily round-filed the work of four former presidents and a taxpayer investment approaching 12 figures, when the Department of Energy (DOE) filed to withdraw the application for the completed underground nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

I can see why the money isn’t an issue. Everyone knows that after inauguration the president gets two things:  The Nuclear Football and the Bottomless Magic Money Bag.  But I am confused by the move in light of Obama’s recent support for nuclear power – unless that was just a bunch of jazz to soften up opponents of Cap and Trade.


Come to think of it, if you look closely at the video of Obama announcing loan guarantees for nuclear plants, you can almost see crossed fingers and winks at his environmentalist supporters.


Leslie Paige with Citizens Against Government Waste points out that the move didn’t hurt Obama’s buddy, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s, tough re-election effort in Nevada either.


“That decision, which is widely and correctly understood to be a political gift to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has negative ramifications far beyond the near- term political expediency of appeasing Leader Reid and the anti-nuclear power crowd.  In fact, it is patently illogical when viewed in tandem with the President’s stated support of nuclear power in general.  The nation currently has 58,000 metric tons of commercial nuclear waste sitting at storage facilities at power plants across the country.  President Obama’s crusade to close Yucca Mountain and permanently yank the facility’s license application will imperil the nation’s entire energy policy and cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.” 


I wouldn’t be so cynical if the administration could come up with a good reason to blithely and unlawfully scrap such an expensive and necessary facility. And, as Paige further explains, the legal repercussions of this decision are significant:


 “There are a myriad of problems associated with the politicized and short-sighted decision to abandon Yucca Mountain.  First, and perhaps most importantly, it contravenes the law.  The Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), first enacted in 1982, authorized the federal government to enter into contracts with nuclear power companies to remove their spent nuclear fuel to a permanent repository; the nuclear utilities would have the authority to charge their ratepayers fees to pay for that facility.  The law, as amended, clearly designates Yucca Mountain as the only permanent nuclear waste storage facility and any alteration of that location will require a legislative change to the NWPA.”


But this is the kind of thing that happens when the captain charts course with two compasses: junk science and political expediency.

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