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Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain, the Nevada-based, scientifically flawed and politically unjust proposed high-level radioactive waste repository has now been canceled. However, pro-nuclear forces in Congress have not abandoned Yucca and funding is still allocated to the project.

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Tuesday
May292018

Federal Nuclear Dumping in Nevada Stirs Statewide Resentment

Thursday
May102018

U.S. House votes 340 to 72 to "Screw Nevada," again -- and perhaps New Mexico and Texas, too, while they're at it!

Return of the Yucca Dump Zombie?! Las Vegas Review Journal political cartoonist Jim Day declared the dump scheme dead in 2010, with the Obama administration's move to withdraw the DOE license application, and de-funding of the project. But today's U.S. House vote shows some twitching in one of the Yucca Dump Zombie Mutant's six toes (on each foot!). Opponents will have to redouble their efforts to block Yucca, as well as "parking lot dumps" targeted at NM and TX.

The biggest vote on nuclear waste policy on the U.S. House floor in 16 years took place this morning.

By a final vote of 340 to 72, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted in favor of H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018. (16 members did not vote. The preceding link lists how each member voted -- the roll call vote only happened thanks to the intervention of anti-Yucca dump champion, Dina Titus, Democrat of Nevada -- see below.)

(See the May 5, 2018 analysis by Robert J. Halstead, Executive Director of the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, entitled "Comments on Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018, H.R. 3053, Rules Committee Print 115-69." The analysis helpfully lists several very significant changes to the bill, made in very recent days, by the Rules Committee of the U.S. House. These changes affect such aspects of the legislation as funding mechanisms for the Yucca Mountain dump moving forward. In fact, these changes regarding congressional comittee control over annual appropriations, as opposed to mandatory funding allocations -- as well other exemptions from financial accountability, budgetary trickery, and deficit gimmicks -- is what broke the months-long impasse between House appropriators and authorizers, unfortunately enabling this bill to move forward to a floor vote.)

This bad vote happened, desipte a letter signed by Beyond Nuclear and 166 additional environmental groups nationwide, opposing H.R. 3053, that was delivered to every single U.S. House office earlier this week.

This dangerously bad vote also happened despite not hundreds, but thousands, of constitutent phone calls, emails, faxes, letters, and face-to-face meetings, between concerned citizens and their U.S. Representatives, that have happened in the past days, weeks, months, and year -- as urged and encouraged by Beyond Nuclear action alerts and those of many other groups.

On May 7, 2018, Beyond Nuclear, for example, delivered this letter (.pdf format; .doc format, with functioning hyper-links) to U.S. House offices -- similar to such packages delivered to the U.S. House multiple times over the past 13 months re: H.R. 3053.

One way to look at it is, we (a coaliton of now well over a thousand environmental groups) have been successfully blocking the Yucca dump for at least 31 years. And, despite today's lopsided vote, "we have not yet begun to fight!"

Here are the results for the Dina Titus (Democrat-Nevada) amendment that would have required consent-based siting:

The Titus amendment failed, by a vote of 80-332; 1 RY and 107 DNs. (DN = Democrats voting No; RY = Republicans voting Yes -- noting the members who voted contra-usual, assuming a partisan vote). The one RY was U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV).

 

This lopsided, bad vote happened, despite a letter, signed by Beyond Nuclear and 35 other environmental groups, urging support for the Titus amendment. (The coalition only had less than five hours, once amendments were revealed, to gather signatures, given how fast the Screw Nevada 2.0 voting process was being rammed through by House Republican Leadership!)

 

Titus did end up requesting a recorded roll call vote on not only her own amendment, above, but also on the underlying bill, H.R. 3053. There had long been a rumor H.R. 3053 would merely be voice-voted, with no record of how individual members ended up voting.

 

As reported above, the H.R. 3053 final vote was 340-72, in favor of passage; 5 RNs and 119 DYs (RN = Republicans voting No; DYs = Democrats voting Yes -- again, noting the members who voted contra-usual, assuming a partisan vote). RNs were Justin Amash of MI, Mark Amodei of NV, Rob Bishop of UT, Mia Love of UT, and Thomas Massie of KY.

 

(To see a transcript of the House floor debate, and votes, from today, see it posted online here. Thanks to Mary Beth Brangan of Ecological Options Network for sharing it with us.)

 

The congressional actions associated with the full legislative history of this bill are posted here (note tabs for additional info. about H.R. 3053).

 

TAKE ACTION! THANK MEMBERS WHO MADE GOOD VOTES AGAINST THESE BAD NUKE WASTE DUMPS AND THE MOBILE CHERNOBYLS THEY'D LAUNCH! "SPANK" MEMBERS WHO VOTED WRONG!

 

Folks are encouraged to look up your U.S. Rep.'s vote on the Titus amendment, as well as the overall vote on the underlying base bill, H.R. 3053. If your U.S. Rep. voted in favor of the Titus amendment, in favor of consent-based siting, please thank them for that; conversely, if your U.S. Rep. voted against consent-based siting, by voting against the Titus amendment, please "spank" them for that (register your disapproval and disagreement, as well as disappointment).

 

Similarly, if your U.S. Rep. voted against the base bill, H.R. 3053, please thank them; if your U.S. Rep. voted in favor of H.R. 3053, to Screw NV, NM, and/or TX, please "spank" them for voting the wrong way.

 

You can also check to see if highly radioactive waste shipments, by the tens of thousands over decades, by truck and/or train, will travel through your U.S. congressional district. 330 of the 435 U.S. congressional districts, in 44 states, and dozens of major cities, are thus impacted.

 

Additional U.S. congressional districts would be impacted by potential barge shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel -- on the Great Lakes, rivers, and seacoasts, in many states -- if and when the Yucca Mountain, NV, and/or CISFs in NM and/or TX, open.

 

You can include information about such high-risk road, rail, and/or waterway shipments in your thanks or "spanks" to your member of the U.S. House of Representatives, depending on how they voted on the Titus amendment, and the base bill (H.R. 3053). And remember, it's not just the 330 congressional districts that would be directly traversed by road and/or rail shipments of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel, that would be impacted. So too would be downwind and downstream congressional districts, near enough to a severe accident, or intentional attack, involving such a shipment, in the case of a shipping container breach, and release of hazardous radioactivity.

 

You can look up the contact info. for your U.S. Rep. at this link, in order to register your thanks or "spanks" with them.

 

In short, the U.S. House of Representatives has thus voted, by a wide margin, to "Screw Nevada, again." The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987, which singled out Yucca Mountain as the only site in the country to be further studied (and targeted) for a national geologic repository for highly radioactive waste disposal, is most popularly known as the "Screw Nevada" bill. Other targeted states, more politically powerful at the time, such as Texas, Washington, New Hampshire, and others, ganged up on Nevada 31 years ago. But Nevada has fought tooth and nail against the unwanted dump ever since. During today's debate on her consent-based siting amendment, Rep. Titus referred to H.R. 3053 as the "Screw Nevada 2.0" bill.

 

"CENTRALIZED INTERIM STORAGE" ASPECTS OF THE LEGISLATION

 

But H.R. 3053 could just as well "Screw Texas" and/or "Screw New Mexico." The bill, if passed into law, would authorize such privately-owned, U.S. Department of Energy-funded (that is, federal taxpayer funded!), so-called "centralized interim storage facilities," (CISFs) or "monitored retrievable storage sites" (MRSs) -- more truthfully described as away from reactor, de facto permanent, surface storage, "parking lot dumps." Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) in Andrews County, west TX, has applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to construct and operate a CISF for 40,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel. Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance (ELEA), halfway between Hobbs and Carlsbad in southeast New Mexico, has applied to NRC to construct and operate an MRS for 100,000 to 173,600 metric tons of commercial irradiated nuclear fuel. (The two "parking lot dumps" are just 40 miles from each other -- thus proposing a "nuclear sacrifice zone" straddling the largely Hispanic, already badly polluted (by fossil fuel and nuclear industries) TX/NM borderlands, an environmental injustice!)

 

"SCREW NEVADA 2.0" ("AND SCREW TEXAS AND NEW MEXICO TOO, WHILE WE'RE AT IT!")

 

Today's vote went even worse than the May 8, 2002 vote by the U.S. House to override the State of Nevada's veto of the Yucca dump. That vote was 306 in favor of "Screwing Nevada," with 117 opposed.

 

With all of these congressional votes, to Screw NV and/or TX and/or NM, perhaps they should also have amended the Pledge of Allegiance, to read instead: "...one nation, under God, indivisible -- except when it comes to highly radioactive waste, then it's every state for themselves!"

 

ON TO THE SENATE! (OR NOT?!)

 

The silver lining in today's vote, as articulated by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) during the House floor debate, is that there is no indication whatsoever that the U.S. Senate will take up the bill. Dean Heller of Nevada is the most vulnerable incumbent Republican U.S. Senator in this November's mid-term elections. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the rest of the U.S. Senate Republican caucus, do not want to lose their razor-thin majority on Election Day. If the Yucca dump issue comes up on the U.S. Senate floor, Sen. Heller could well lose his re-election. So chances are high that McConnell will not let any such bill reach the Senate floor before Election Day.

 

BEWARE THE RADIOACTIVE LAME DUCK SESSION!

 

The day after the election, however, and the entire rest of the "lame duck" session of Congress, could well turn out to be a whole other matter in this regard. Opponents to both the permanent burial dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, NV, as well as CISFs targeted at NM and TX, will thus have to remain vigilant against H.R. 3053, or any other legislation like it, moving in the U.S. Senate, for the foreseeable future!

 

TAKE ACTION ON THE SENATE SIDE!

 

Food & Water Watch is right (see Update below), we should take nothing for granted. They have already prepared a webform action alert for communicating with your U.S. Senators, in the aftermath of this U.S. House vote. Please take action!

 

You can also phone your U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You can use the same arguments contained in the Beyond Nuclear action alert re: H.R. 3053 in the U.S. House, to educate your U.S. Senators' offices about the risks of targeting NV, NM, and/or TX with permanent or so-called "interim" highly radioactive waste dumps.

Monday
May072018

Letter Urging Opposition to Nuclear Waste Bill, H.R. 3053

As posted at the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) website:

Letter
May 07, 2017

One hundred and sixty-seven (167) groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging them to oppose the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017.” This bill would ignore environmental concerns, states’ rights and consent to host the waste in the first instance, and attempts to truncate public review in order to force a “solution”―either Yucca Mountain or a new consolidated interim storage site―that have both proved to be unworkable.

[Download the 6 page PDF, here.]

Beyond Nuclear has been honored and privileged to work with NRDC in circulating this letter for sign on's.

Wednesday
May022018

Very urgent action alert: Shimkus Mobile Chernobyl/Screw NV/nuke waste "parking lot" dump bill -- U.S. House floor vote likely next week! SIGN GROUP LETTER ASAP! Flood Congress with calls!

Action alert sent by Beyond Nuclear on May 1st:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We have learned from the Sierra Club that there is a good chance that U.S. Representative John Shimkus's (Republican-Illinois) bill, H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 2018, will very likely go to the U.S. House floor for a vote next week.

H.R. 3053 has officially popped up on the Rules site now, so unless something changes (which isn’t impossible), we’ll be seeing a vote next week. Probably Wednesday, May 9th or Thursday, May 10th.

Please act ASAP to help stop this dangerously bad bill!  Both groups and individuals can take action.

An environmental coalition of 120+ organizations sent a letter to the U.S. House last October, urging opposition to H.R. 3053. The letter will be sent one more time, early next week, so please act fast. There is still time to sign your group on if you haven't already, but do so by close of business Eastern time Friday, May 4th. Please remember that NRDC's Washington, D.C. office is on Eastern time, so those in other time zones, please act ASAP! (Check to see if your group has already signed on -- the full letter, and current list of signatory groups, is in italics below).

To sign your organization on if you haven't already, please fill out and and submit this Google form, or else directly email Sean Alcorn at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) your name, title, organization name, city and state. 

Individuals, please contact your own U.S. Rep., and urge them to oppose H.R. 3053. Sierra Club has a webform you can fill out and submit to your U.S. Rep. SEED Coalition of Texas has launched a CREDO petition you can sign. You can also phone your U.S. Rep.'s D.C. office, via the Capitol Switchboard, at (202) 225-3121, by following the instructions. Or you can look up your U.S. Rep.'s direct contact info. here, by entering your zip code, clicking the FIND YOUR REP BY ZIP button, and following the links.

(What's the alternative to such a dangerously bad bill as H.R. 3053? Beyond Nuclear has joined with hundreds of groups, representing all 50 states, to long advocate for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), as close to the point of generation as possible. HOSS is a needed safety and security upgrade, an interim alternative to such dangerously bad schemes Shimkus's Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018. The bill would launch Mobile Chernobyls on roads and rails through 44 states, many major cities, and 330 of the 435 U.S. congressional districts, bound for dumping on Western Shoshone Indian land at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. It could also launch Floating Fukushima barge shipments on surface waters in many states, including on the Great Lakes! As well as the California coast! Just to name a couple examples.).

The bill also authorizes the targeting of southeast New Mexico (Holtec International/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance), west Texas (Waste Control Specialists, LLC), and perhaps other locations (such as Dresden nuclear power plant/General Electric-Morris Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation in Morris, Illinois, as but one more example), for so-called "centralized or consolidated interim storage facilities," a.k.a. "monitored retrievable storage sites," in the near term ( beginning in the early 2020s). East to West shipments, as to New Mexico and/or Texas, would follow similar to identical truck, train, and/or barge routes as those to Yucca, especially the further east you look.

Each of these schemes would violate basic criteria for safe, sound radioactive waste management: scientific site suitability; consent-based siting; environmental justice; regional equity (East dumps on West -- 90% of reactors, and waste, are in the eastern half of the country; 75% are east of the Mississippi River); and legality (violation of U.S.-Western Shoshone Indian Nation "peace and friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863, equal in stature to the U.S. Constitution itself, as the supreme law of the land). These dangerously bad nuke waste dumps, and their high-risk shipping schemes, must be stopped!

Thank you for taking action, and spreading the word far and wide ASAP (please share this action alert with your networks)!

To learn more about why H.R. 3053 is a dangerously bad idea, see Beyond Nuclear's Yucca Mountain burial dump, de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dump, and radioactive waste transport risk website sections. If you have taken action already, thank you very much. Please consider spreading the word as widely as possible, given the grave risks and high stakes!

Sincerely,

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear & board member, Don't Waste Michigan

TEXT OF LETTER TO U.S. HOUSE MEMBERS, AND CURRENT LIST OF SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS

Dear Representative:

On behalf of our millions of members, the undersigned organizations urge you to oppose H. R. 3053, the “Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017” (115th Congress, 1st Session). This bill will put our nation’s nuclear waste storage policy on the wrong track yet again. It ignores environmental concerns, states’ rights and consent to host the waste in the first instance, and attempts to truncate public review in order to force a “solution” – either Yucca Mountain or a new consolidated interim storage site – that have both proven to be unworkable. Rather than blindly charge forward at the cost of public safety and public resources, we urge Congress to reject this bill and start the important and necessary work on a comprehensive set of hearings to commence building a publicly accepted, consent based repository program.

The bill you will vote on retains the flaws contained in its earlier forms. Some of these harms include unwise efforts to recommence the licensing process for proposed repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. This is a project certain to fail the NRC’s licensing process due to the geology and hydrology of the site that make it unsuitable for isolating spent nuclear fuel for the required time. Next, the draft legislation suggests going forward with a consolidated storage proposal before working out the details of a comprehensive legislative path to solve the nuclear waste problem, entirely severing the link between storage and disposal, and thus creating, an overwhelming risk that an interim storage site will determine or function as de facto final resting place for nuclear waste. The draft provides no safety, environmental or public acceptance criteria, only speed of siting and expense. This is precisely the formula that produced the failure of the Yucca Mountain process and made it, as the previous administration noted, “unworkable.”

Other provisions conflict with the well-established and necessary requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §4321, et seq. Doing so exacerbates the public interest community’s (and that of Nevada) objection of the last two decades – that the process of developing, licensing, and setting environmental and oversight standards for the proposed repository has been, and continues to be, rigged or weakened to ensure that the site can be licensed, rather than provide for safety over the length of time that the waste remains dangerous to public health and the environment. 

This bill was largely changed for the worse in committee. The bill now sets us on path to go forward in the next few years with a consolidated storage proposal before working out the details of a comprehensive legislative path to solve the nuclear waste problem and, frankly, creates an overwhelming risk that an interim storage site in New Mexico, Utah, or even Texas (although the Texas site just requested that its license application be held in abeyance) will be the de facto final resting place for nuclear waste.

 

This will not work. It is likely those states will, in some form or another, resist being selected as the dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste without a meaningful consent based process and regulatory authority that garners both public acceptance and a scientifically defensible solution. Further, and also just as damning, it sets up yet another attempt to ship the waste to Yucca Mountain irrespective of its certain likelihood of failing the regulatory process, or seek to revive the licensed Private Fuel Storage site that has been strongly opposed in Utah or even open up New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility for spent nuclear fuel disposal despite strong opposition and contrary to 25 years of federal law. The latter site also was designed and intended for nuclear waste with trace levels of plutonium, not spent fuel (and we note, a site that has already seen an accident dispersing plutonium throughout the underground and into the environment, contaminating 22 workers, and thus the site was functionally inoperable for years). All of this runs precisely counter to the core admonition of the previous administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“BRC”) that “consent” come first.

The waste will not be going anywhere for years and it should be incumbent on Congress to fix problems in a meaningful fashion, not attempt an expedient solution that is destined to fail, again.

Our concerns, many of which were detailed above or in earlier letters, remain. We would be pleased to work with any representative on a feasible, constructive path forward, but this legislation would put the nation’s nuclear waste storage policy on the wrong track yet again and we urge you to reject it. Thank you for your consideration of our views.  

Sincerely,

 

350Kishwaukee

350NYC

Alliance for a Green Economy

Alliance for Environmental Strategies

Alliance to Halt Fermi 3

Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Basin and Range Watch

Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team; Mothers Against TN River Radiation

Beyond Nuclear

California Communities Against Toxics

Cape Downwinders

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility

Citizen Action New Mexico

Citizen Power

Citizens Awareness Network

Citizens’ Environmental Coalition

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping

Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi 2 (CRAFT)

Clean Water Action

Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes

Code Pink: Women for Peace

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Concerned Citizens for SNEC Safety

Consumers Health Freedom Coalition

Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy
Crabshell Alliance

CT Coalition Against Millstone

Don’t Waste Arizona

Don’t Waste Michigan

Ecological Options Network (EON)

Energía Mía

Energy Justice Network

Environmental Defense Institute

Environmental Working Group

Fairmont, MN Peace Group

Food & Water Watch

Frack Free Illinois

Franciscans for Justice

Friends of the Earth

Georgia Women's Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND)

Grandmothers Mothers and More for Energy Safety

Great Basin Resource Watch

Great Lakes Environmental Alliance

Green State Solutions, Iowa

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Hip Hop Caucus

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater

Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition

Indigenous Rights Center

Indivisible South Bay Los Angeles

Kawartha lakes land trust

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters of the United States

LEPOCO Peace Center

Los Alamos Study Group

Mankato Area Environmentalists

Merrimack Valley People for Peace

Michigan Safe Energy Future, Kalamazoo MI Chapter

Michigan Safe Energy Future, Shoreline Chapter

Michigan Stop the Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment

Native Community Action Council

Natural Resources Defense Council

Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution

No More Fukushimas

No Nukes NW

North American Climate, Conservation and Environment (NACCE)

North American Water Office

Northwest Environmental Advocates

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Nuclear Energy Information Service

Nuclear Free World Committee; Dallas Peace and Justice Center

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Nuclear Issues Study Group

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Nuclear Watch South

Nukefree.org

Nukewatch

On Behalf of Planet Earth

OurRevolution Ocala

Partnership for Earth Spirituality

Peace Action

Peace Action of Michigan

Physicians for Social Responsibility

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Chesapeake

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles

Physicians for Social Responsibility – Oregon

Physicians for Social Responsibility – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Pilgrim Legislative Advisory Coalition PLAC

Pilgrim Watch

Planet Cents

Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security (PRESS)

Proposition One Committee

Public Citizen

Public Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE)

Public Watchdogs

Rachel Carson Council

Radiation and Public Health Project

Radiation Truth

Redwood Alliance

Residents Organized for a Safe Environment

Riverkeeper

ROAR (Religious Organizations Along the River)

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

Safe Utility Meters Alliance NW (SUMA-NW)

San Clemente Green

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace

San Onofre Safety

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper

Seacoast Anti-Pollution League

Sierra Club

Snake River Alliance

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Southwest Research and Information Center

Stand Up/Save Lives Campaign

Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment (SACCPJE)

SUN DAY Campaign

Support and Education for Radiation Victims (SERV)

Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition

Task Force on Nuclear Power, Oregon and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility


Tennessee Environmental Council 


Tewa Women United


Texas River Revival 


The Colorado Coalition for Prevention of Nuclear War
 


The Lands Council
 


The Nuclear Resister

The Peace Farm

Thomas Merton Center

Three Mile Island Alert

Toledo Coalition for Safe Energy

Touching Earth Sangha

Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

Uranium Watch

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province

UUFHC (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County)

Vermont Citizens Action Network

Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

Veterans For Peace Chapter 74

Western States Legal Foundation

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Youth Arts New York

Friday
Mar092018

No Yucca Money in 2018 Omnibus, House’s Top Energy Appropriator Says