Commentary: Harry Reid and risky Yucca Mountain

If Doc Hastings and Patty Murray are right — and we think they are — the shutdown going on at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is illegal.

Under the two lawmakers' theory, agreed to by 91 members of Congress, the Department of Energy is using money it doesn't have to do work it is not authorized to do and all in defiance of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Congress.

The effort is to close operations at the nuclear repository. The justification DOE offers is an odd one, if we understand it: They will close the site because Barack Obama said he would do so back when he was a senator campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president.

The fact the election turned out the way it did doesn't change the law Congress passed establishing the site.

Usually administrations employ foot-dragging on projects they disfavor rather than out-and-out defiance of Congress.

This time, DOE has taken money intended for the construction of the repository and is spending it on the unlawful termination of the project.

No excuses are offered. No rationale. Just raw arrogance and a display of power.

Interestingly enough, Democrats are among the 91 who signed a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, that was written by Murray, D-Wash., and Hastings, R-Wash.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.tri-cityherald.com.