Reid's departure is good for Earth

Published on Monday, 30 March 2015 19:34 - Written by

This is great news for the environment. Sen. Harry Reid won’t run for re-election. That means the biggest obstacle to a truly “green” energy future will be gone.

“Sen. Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance,” the New York Times reported last week. “Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.”

Whatever his motivation, the effect of his retirement will be huge. And not just because his personal leadership style has been corrosive. It’s also because he won’t be there to block the opening of Yucca Mountain.

Yucca Mountain is the nation’s best — and only — option for storing nuclear waste. Unless or until solar power, wind power and other forms of renewable energies are developed into dependable sources, nuclear remains the only truly green option.

“The use of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository has been hotly debated for the last 25 years or so, with Sen. Reid promising Nevada residents he would never allow waste to be stored at the site,” the Daily Caller website reports. “For years, Reid has been able to successfully keep the federal government from storing nuclear waste at Yucca. Nuclear waste storage at Yucca was first approved by Congress in 2002, but Reid was able to cut off funding to the project while he was Senate majority leader. The Obama administration helped Reid out by halting Yucca’s licensing process.”

But Yucca Mountain is 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.

As far back as 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 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.

Indeed, 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?”

That’s why Harry Reid’s retirement is good news.