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NRC Planning for Resumption of Yucca Mountain Licensing Proceeding

Even though the three currently serving U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioners voted by June 9th in favor of reviving the long-suspended Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump licensing proceeding, they didn't bother to tell the public till two months later!

On August 8th, the vote count documents were at long last revealed. By a 2-1 vote, the NRC Commissioners voted to fund the beginning of the resumption of Yucca Mountain licensing proceeding. NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki, and NRC Commissioner Stephen Burns, voted in favor of resuming the proceeding; NRC Commissioner Jeff Baran voted against resuming the proceeding.

The questions upon which they were voting can be viewed in this document.

See the July 31, 2017 NRC Staff Requirements Memorandum, here.

See the NRC's press release about the Commission vote, here.

Svinicki, a Republican, has been on the NRC Commission since 2008. She has been a reliable pro-industry rubber-stamp, voting against the public interest at every turn. When Trump moved into the Oval Office, he declared Svinicki to be the chairman of the NRC. She was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate for another five years on the NRC Commission. Svinicki had previously served as a top U.S. Senate staffer for such pro-Yucca dump advocates as Larry Craig, Republican U.S. Senator from Idaho. Svinicki stirred controversy during an earlier Senate confirmation to the NRC, when she failed to disclose that she had worked on the Yucca Mountain Project during her stint at the U.S. Department of Energy. Despite her conflict of interest in favor of the Yucca Mountain dump, she was never required to recuse herself from the matter -- as NRC Commissioner, and later Chairman, Greg Jaczko (a Democrat, who worked as the top Yucca staffer for U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), in opposition to the dump) was forced to do, for two years.

Burns, although an Independent, filled a Democratic slot on the Commission, and was nominated by President Obama, and served as NRC Chairman during the last years of the Obama presidency. Beyond Nuclear opposed Burns' nomination and confirmation, because of his years-long stint at the pro-nuclear promotional institution, Nuclear Energy Agency, in Paris, France, a sub-division of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), where he served as top legal counsel. (Beyond Nuclear objected to this blurring of the lines between nuclear power's promotion, and its safety regulation, just as it had done re: the blatant conflict of interest, during many long months at NRC, by Commissioner William Magwood IV, a Democrat, who successfully courted the top job at NEA, while still serving at NRC.) Before NEA, Burns had served as a senior lawyer in NRC's Office of General Counsel.

Baran, a Democrat, previously served as a top U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee staffer during the chairmanship of Henry Waxman (D-CA). He played a major role in the development of the Waxman-Markey energy bill of 2009, which promoted renewable energy. The bill passed the U.S. House, but the U.S. Senate failed to take it up.