The Las Vegas Review Journal is the paper of record on the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump. Its archive for 2011 describes the latest twists and turns in the more than 25 year roller coaster ride at the Yucca Mountain Project. This includes a U.S. House Republican witch hunt targeting U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko for the Obama administration's decision to cancel the project, even though its been clearly established by the NRC's Office of Inspector General that Jaczko has acted within the law, and within his authority over NRC's budget and administration, in his moves to end NRC's licensing activities surrounding Yucca. However, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the land, could rule at any time now on a case brought by the State of Washington, the State of South Carolina, Aiken County (South Carolina), and a trio of Washington State businessmen, challening Obama's Yucca cancellation as illegal.
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.
A Heritage Foundation blog states that "[Congressman] Upton’s work on Yucca Mountain spans 20 years, dating to his first term in Congress while serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He was originally tasked with building bipartisan support for Yucca — support that he believes remains, despite the actions of the Obama administration to derail the project." (emphasis added) Indeed, Upton was the primary sponsor of the "Mobile Chernobyl" bills each session of Congress from 1995 to 2000, which would have opened the Yucca dump long before scientific studies had been completed. Upton's legislation was vetoed by President Clinton on the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe (April 26, 2000); the U.S. Senate sustained Clinton's veto on May 2, 2000. Upton has continued to lead the promotion of the Yucca dump to the present day, as by his current witchhunt against NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko, who has decided to zero out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's budget for Yucca licensing activities, given President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu's cancellation of the project in 2009-2010. But WHO gave Upton such marching orders to promote the Yucca dump in the first place? This is not made clear by the Heritage blogger. Was it lobbyists at the Nuclear Energy Institute? Or Upton's superiors in the House Republican Party of the mid-1980s? Beyond Nuclear has prepared a full length exposé on Upton's pro-nuclear advocacy in return for large nuclear industry contributions to his congressional election campaigns, as well as a concise summary. The exposé is fully documented by a compilation of both Political Action Committees and individual donors closely tied to the nuclear power industry.
Robert Alvarez (photo at left), senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, and formerly a senior advisor to the Energy Secretary from 1993 to 1999, has penned a response to yet another in a long line of pro-Yucca dump editorials by the Washington Post editorial board. Ironically enough, a Nuclear Energy Institute ad, taking readers to the NEI website, appeared next to the Post editorial. Alvarez called for prioritizing hardened on-site storage of high-level radioactive wastes, rather than wasting more time and money on the 55 year old will-o-the-wisp dumpsite search. Instead, President Obama's and Energy Secretary Chu's "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" is advocating regional "centralized interim storage," parking lot dumps that will play a risky radioactive waste shell game on our roads, rails, and waterways, and will likely violate environmental justice by targeting such sites as the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah. These centralized parking lot dumps, as at DOE weapons sites such as Savannah River, South Carolina, could also serve as a stepping stone to reprocessing, risking weapons proliferation, environmental contamination and health impacts, as well as a mega-boondoggle for taxpayers. Despite reprocessing's risks, Energy Secretary Chu continues to repeatedly voice support for it.
As reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, a witch hunt led by U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (Republican-Michigan), who has three atomic reactors in his district, and Energy and Economy Subcommittee chairman John Shimkus (Republican-Illinois), who has a total of 14 atomic reactors in his state (11 still operating, 3 permanently shut down), included a recent grilling of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Greg Jazcko. The Republican witch hunt is a bid to resurrect the proposed Yucca Mountain dumpsite for high-level radioactive waste in Nevada. President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu zeroed out funding for the proposal in early 2010, and have also moved to withdraw the Dept. of Energys' construction and operations application from the NRC license proceeding. Congressman Upton has long championed the Yucca dump, including sponsoring several incarnations of the Mobile Chernobyl bill as far back as 1995. Beyond Nuclear has prepared a summary and full length exposé on Upton's pro-nuclear policies, as well as documentation on the sources of nuclear industry campaign cash he has received from political action committees and individuals associated with the nuclear power industry. Opening the Yucca dump has been among the nuclear power industry's highest priorities for a generation.
As reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, three congressional proponents of the cancelled Yucca Mountain dumpsite for high-level radioactive waste decided to take a 30 yard stroll down a tunnel, at a cost of $15,000 to U.S. taxpayers. The visit, intended to help resurrect the project, lasted less than an hour. If revived and taken full scale, the pricetag for the Yucca Mountain dump's construction and operation would top $100 billion, according to the Dept. of Energy. Since the 1980s, over $8 billion of ratepayer money, and more than $3 billion of taxpayer money, has been wasted at the controversial hole in the Nevada desert. Republican U.S. Representative John Shimkus, chair of the subcommittee on energy and the economy, led the tour. He hales from Illinois, the state with more high-level radioactive waste than any other. (Another ironic Yucca-Chernobyl connection -- President Clinton in 2000 vetoed a congressional attempt to open the dump, dubbed the Mobile Chernobyl bill, on the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, almost to the exact minute of the explosion.) An archive of Yucca news coverage dating back to 2002 can be viewed at the website of the Las Vegas Review Journal.