As reported by Nina Totenberg on National Public Radio, President Obama has nominated U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Chief Judge, Merrick Garland (photo, left), to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Antonin Scalia.
As reported by NPR, Garland has been a "persuasive voice for liberals" on environmental issues. In summer 2013, he penned a dissenting position when two Republican judges out-voted him, ordering the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revive its licensing proceeding for the Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump proposal, even though there was very little remaining funding to do so. Garland called it "the doing of a useless act."
President Obama wisely cancelled the Yucca dump in 2010, citing it as "unworkable." Republicans in Congress, including U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), are still pushing hard to open the Yucca dump, over the State of Nevada's, and the Western Shoshone Indian Nation's, objections.
Despite the 2-1 D.C. Court of Appeals split decision ordering NRC to resume its Yucca licensing proceeding, the scant funding only allowed a few Safety Evaluation Reports (SERs) to be completed. One acknowledged a showstopper: the U.S. Department of Energy lacks clear title to the lands, and water rights, needed to proceed with the dump. Nevada has no inclination to grant them. The scant Yucca funding left in NRC's coffers in 2013 is now almost entirely expended, allowing no further licensing work to take place on the dismantled project.