May
02
2011

Daily Caller: was Yucca Mountain shutdown lawful?

The DC has the scoop*: Congress is now investigating whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) actually had the authority to unilaterally shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility without Congressional authorization, given that Yucca Mountain was authorized under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.  Furthermore, there are now serious questions about whether the NRC’s leadership – and, by extension, the Obama administration – is ignoring the actual science of the situation in favor of petty and crasss partisan politics.

This is the key paragraph, I think: it describes the background to the sudden quashing in November 2010 of a safety report on the facility.

Dr. Janet Kotra, the deputy office director responsible for drafting the [Yucca Mountain] safety evaluation, known as the Safety Evaluation Report (SER), wrote in an internal memo that [NRC Chair {and Reid crony} Gregory] Jaczko unilaterally instructed his staff to “move to orderly closure of NRC’s Yucca Mountain program.” This is despite the fact the Nuclear Waste Policy Act remains in effect and the full commission has yet to rule on whether the Department of Energy can legally withdraw the license application.

Wwhat it’s showing here is that there is credible evidence that – pious rhetoric to the contrary – the decision to close down Yucca Mountain has nothing to do with whether it is actually dangerous to the environment.  There is a non-trivial percentage of the Democratic party’s base that hates and fears nuclear power; and Yucca Mountain is a bit of a boogieman to them.  Shutting it down would thus be an obvious partisan move by this administration.

Unfortunately for the White House, it apparently did not occur to Democrats that their faction would not be in control of C0ngress until the end of time; or that the legislative branch of the US government can get cranky when the executive decides that it can do anything that it likes…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Including documents which they have not yet released.

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