Commentary: Yucca Mountain nuclear waste decision needs broader action

The Tri-City HeraldMarch 2, 2010 

Hats off to the trio of Tri-Citians challenging President Obama's decision to abandon plans for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

But it's a curious turn of events that has individuals leading the charge against this sudden shift in the nation's nuclear waste policy away from Yucca Mountain.

The uproar from electrical ratepayers, taxpayers, the nuclear industry and local and state officials ought to be deafening. If the decision stands, it means pouring more than $3 billion of the ratepayers' money down a rat hole without any rational explanation.

As a nation, we ought to be outraged. Instead, the response has been inexplicably underwhelming from most quarters.

On Feb. 1, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that he was withdrawing the Department of Energy's licensing application "with prejudice."

The phrasing is important. It means that left unchallenged, Chu's action wouldn't just halt the licensing process, but also prevent Yucca Mountain from ever being considered for a nuclear waste repository.

The decision is purely political. Northwesterners especially shouldn't stand for it.

So far, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's licensing review hasn't turned up any technical reasons to reject Yucca Mountain.

But the Obama administration's blue ribbon panel on nuclear waste won't even be allowed to consider the Nevada site.

That's terrible policy for a lot of reasons.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Tri-City Herald.

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