Nuclear energy is the only proven ‚Äúgreen‚ÄĚ energy producer, so this should be good news to environmentalists such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. An appeals court has restarted the process for opening Yucca Mountain as the nation‚Äôs nuclear waste depository.
It‚Äôs not, of course, which brings into question once again the sincerity of those who say they want the United States to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
‚ÄúIn a rebuke to the Obama administration, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been violating federal law by delaying a decision on a proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada,‚ÄĚ the Associated Press reported last week. ‚ÄúBy a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the commission to complete the licensing process and approve or reject the Energy Department‚Äôs application for a never-completed waste storage site at Nevada‚Äôs Yucca Mountain.‚ÄĚ
What is Yucca Mountain? It‚Äôs the best and safest storage facility imaginable for nuclear waste. The federal government already has spent more than $15 billion on the site over the last three decades.
A 1995 National Academy of Sciences report concluded underground storage is safe, and also that governments must act quickly to alleviate the accumulating waste in above-ground temporary storage facilities. The NAS scientists also asserted the problem of nuclear waste disposal is purely political, and that waste disposal at an underground facility is safe from a scientific standpoint.
And a U.S. Department of Energy study had similar findings ‚ÄĒ that nuclear waste could be safely stored at the Yucca Mountain site.
Joe Colvin, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the DOE report ‚Äúon years of scientific study offers further support of the suitability of Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository for used fuel from the nation‚Äôs commercial nuclear power plants and high level radioactive waste from the nation‚Äôs defense programs.‚ÄĚ
So what‚Äôs the problem? Yucca Mountain is in Sen. Harry Reid‚Äôs home state.
‚ÄúThe Obama administration, under pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, abandoned the project early in the president‚Äôs first term,‚ÄĚ AP explains. ‚ÄúIn 2011, the NRC allowed the shutdown to stand, citing ‚Äėbudgetary limitations‚Äô imposed by Congress.‚ÄĚ
Indeed, Reid has pledged it will never open, as long as he‚Äôs in power.
‚ÄúWith no disrespect to the court, this decision means nothing,‚ÄĚ Reid responded last week. ‚ÄúYucca Mountain is an afterthought.‚ÄĚ
Realistically, however, all the green energy projects funded by the federal government since the financial crisis began have yielded little. A few places in the United States incorporate some wind or some solar energy into the power grid, but only nuclear energy has proven itself as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
As the Heritage Foundation‚Äôs Jack Spencer points out, ‚ÄúUltimately, the road to cleaner air must run through Yucca Mountain. The choice, then, is clear. Nuclear energy, carbon dioxide or the lights go out. What‚Äôs it going to be?‚ÄĚ
There‚Äôs no better option for disposal of nuclear waste, and there‚Äôs no other option for green energy. Congress must open Yucca Mountain.