Pandering to Sen. Harry Reid? -- Nuclear power: one step forward one day; two steps back the next.
Site of proposed federal nuclear-waste vault beneath Yucca Mountain, Nevada
From The Wall Street Journal:
On Thursday, big utility operators and some state officials blasted the administration's formal announcement that it would drop plans for a federal nuclear-waste vault beneath Yucca Mountain, Nev., and instead consider what it believes are better options.
The Energy Department's move to formally drop its application for the Yucca Mountain waste site could hobble efforts to build more nuclear power plants—a strategy the Obama administration has promoted as a way to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions. Without a permanent solution to the waste-storage problem, several states, including California, won't let new nuclear plants be built.
Michael Morris, chief executive of American Electric Power Co., said on Thursday that "there has to be a reaction," because Yucca is the only site that's been vetted and deemed capable of storing waste from the nation's 104 operating power reactors. Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference, he blasted the "idiocy of Yucca Mountain" being terminated as a repository and said the government will have wasted $10 billion on the project if it doesn't proceed.
Under federal law, Yucca is the designated site for the nation's spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. But the repository is more than a decade behind schedule. As a result, the waste generally remains at the nuclear reactors and DOE sites where it was generated.
[The] exclusive focus on Yucca assured nearly unanimous opposition from Nevada officials, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has long challenged the safety and security of the site. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently convened a blue-ribbon panel to study new options for managing nuclear waste.
The administration has said it believes there are better options than Yucca Mountain. It cites increased understanding of technical issues surrounding nuclear-waste disposal than was the case in the late 1980s. Critics accuse the administration of pandering to Mr. Reid. They also note that three months before Mr. Obama's election, Dr. Chu joined nine other scientists in co-signing a paper advocating Yucca's use.