Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is once again demanding the government do more to promote renewable energy to forestall climate change.
But the biggest impediment to truly “green” power is Harry Reid himself. That’s because the greenest energy available is nuclear power, and Reid’s intransigent stand against the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository is a big reason more nuclear power plants aren’t being built.
“Since 1987, when Congress first approved the study of Yucca Mountain, the American people have contributed $31 million — a process in which the state of Nevada fully complied, and one in which it has received plenty of financial benefits,” explained Ken Silverstein in Forbes magazine. “But the folks there — and it’s hard to blame them — don’t want 70,000 plus tons of nuclear waste in their backyard. So, President Obama joined forces with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ‘kill’ Yucca Mountain in 2008. In 2009, Reid’s former staffer, Greg Jaczko, headed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Energy Department then nixed the licensing process in 2010.”
Although a federal appeals court stepped in to restart the licensing process in 2013, no progress has been made, and we’re even further away from having a permanent place to store nuclear waste.
What is Yucca Mountain? It’s 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 — that nuclear waste could be safely stored at the Yucca Mountain site.
Joe Colvin, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said the DOE report “on years of scientific study offers further support of the suitability of Yucca Mountain as a permanent repository for used fuel from the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants and high level radioactive waste from the nation’s defense programs.”
Here’s where it all breaks down. Yucca Mountain is in Reid’s home state.
The fact of the matter is that all the green energy projects funded by the federal government 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’s Jack Spencer points out, “Ultimately, 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’s it going to be?”
There’s no better option for disposal of nuclear waste.
In recent weeks, Reid has claimed that the Koch Brothers (petroleum magnates) are responsible for climate change. It’s more true to say that Reid is blocking efforts to prevent it.