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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
May192015

"Yucca Mountain left out of Senate funding bill" -- but for how much longer?!

As reported by Devin Henry in The Hill, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has not included funding in the Energy and Water Development section of the Senate Appropriations bill to revive the cancelled Yucca Mountain, Nevada radioactive waste dump. However, Alexander -- a long time Yucca dump supporter -- has made clear that the Senate floor debate of the Appropriations bill would be a good place to add Yucca dump funding by amendment.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, can be expected to fight any such amendment with everything he's got. After all, he's been successfully leading the fight against the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, when he was a rookie Senator.

President Obama has also opposed the Yucca dump as "unworkable" -- de-funding the project, and even moving to withdraw the U.S. Department of Energy's application to construct and operate the high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada.

The U.S. House has included funding for Yucca's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing proceeding. A conference committee between House and Senate appropriators would be another juncture for Yucca dump opponents to remain vigilant against funding being added to the bill.

Alexander's Senate Appropriations Bill language also includes funding for centralized, or consolidated, storage of commercial irradiated fuel -- something opponents have dubbed de facto permanent parking lot dumps. Nuclear boosters near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in NM, as well as at Waste Control Specialists in Texas, have expressed interest in becoming consolidated interim storage sites -- for a price. Alexander's provision, supported by ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, would launch unprecedented numbers of risky high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges onto the roads, rails, and waterways.

Friday
May152015

Rep. Shimkus (R-IL) pushes Yucca dump at House hearing

On May 15th, U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) chaired a hearing of the House Economy and the Environment Subcommittee entitled "Update on the Current Status of Nuclear Waste Management Policy."

It should have been titled "Pro-Yucca Dump Pep Rally" instead! Led by Shimkus himself, almost all of the statements from congressional subcommittee members called for the dump targeted at Nevada to be revived, even though the vast majority of the State of Nevada is opposed.

Even the witnesses were strongly biased in favor of the Yucca dump. These included a nuclear power utility CEO, the far from neutral U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff official in charge of the Yucca licensing proceeding, a Public Service Commission official (where "public service" often means serving the public up for dinner to the nuclear power industry), and a spokesman from a long shutdown atomic reactor currently engaged in a prolonged decommissioning process. In short, all of these spokespeople had an overriding agenda to get the radioactive waste the nuclear power utilities profited from generating in the first place onto the roads, rails, and waterways, preferably bound for Yucca Mountain, NV.

The lone Yucca dump opponent, Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney Geoff Fettus, very ably articulated the position of a thousand environmental and public interest groups across the country which have helped block the dump for decades. In fact, on behalf of such groups as NIRS, Public Citizen, Citizens Action Coalition of IN, and NV Nuclear Waste Task Force, Fettus successfully argued the case against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, from 2002-2004. That environmental court victory resulted in EPA's being ordered back to the drawing board on its Yucca regulations. In 2008, under the court's order, EPA admitted that 10,000 years of regulation at Yucca was far from enough. Rather, the high-level radioactive wastes would remain hazardous for a million years.

But the rigged nature of this hearing was best exemplified by an exchange between Rep. Shimkus and NRDC's Fettus. Shimkus asked the witnesses, yes or no, should the Yucca dump licensing proceeding be restarted. All the witnesses said yes, except for Fettus. But as Fettus calmly attempted to explain the reasons why, Shimkus simply shouted him down, attempting to put words in his mouth.

A video recording of the entire hearing is posted at the Subcommittee's website, as is the transcript, witness prepared statements, etc.

Monday
May112015

"Obama Administration threatens veto on nuclear funding bill"

As reported by Jaclyn Brandt in FierceEnergy, President Obama has threated to veto the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill (HR 2028), unless changes are made -- such as to better promote renewables.

The very pro-nuclear bill also includes $175 million for the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revive the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump licensing proceeding. The process was halted when the Obama administration effectively cancelled the project in 2009-2010, de-funding the dump, and even moving to withdraw the application to construct and operate the repository.

As reported by the article:

The president's statement also said the funding for the Yucca Mountain project is a "rejection of the practical solutions proposed in the President's nuclear waste strategy."

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who has successfully led the opposition to the Yucca dump since the "Screw Nevada bill" of 1987, can be expected to yet again block any additional funding from being wasted on the Yucca dump.

Friday
Mar272015

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, stalwart opponent of Yucca dump, announces he won't seek re-election

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid of NevadaU.S. Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) has announced he won't seek re-election, and will retire 22 months from now. Reid, who has long served as either the U.S. Senate Majority or Minority Leader (depending on the number of Democrats serving in the chamber), has devoted his entire Senate career to successful opposition to the high-level radioactive waste dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

In 1987, when the "Screw Nevada" bill was enacted into law, Reid was a rookie U.S. Senator. In "Screw Nevada," other targeted, more populous and politically powerful states -- such as Texas and Washington, as well as Northeastern states -- ganged up on Nevada, singling out Yucca Mountain as the sole location in the country to be further studied as a potential irradiated nuclear fuel and HLRW dump. This, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) already knew by then, via preliminary scientific studies, that the site was unsuitable.

But the nuclear lobbyists picked the wrong rookie Senator to mess with. For nearly three decades, Reid has led a bipartisan Nevada consensus that has blocked the dump at every turn. In 2000, he secured 34 Senate votes, enough to sustain President Clinton's veto of a congressional attempt to rush open the dump, despite incomplete scientific studies. In 2002, he secured 39 Senate votes against Yucca, the most ever. Coming off the Senate floor after that vote, Reid -- a former boxer -- spoke with environmental allies, saying "It's like at the bar. Sometimes, you've just got to take it out back."

Even during the pro-dump George W. Bush administration, Reid was able to put the brakes on multi-billion dollar annual Yucca dump budgets. Working closely with President Barack Obama, Reid convinced the new administration in 2009 to completely defund the project, and even move to withdraw DOE's construction and operating license application. This has resulted in the effective cancelation of the Yucca dump, and dismantlement of its personnel and physical infrastructure, in the past several years.

Even with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress pushing hard to revive the Yucca dump, Reid has continued his adamant opposition. Opponents to countless "Mobile Chernobyl" trucks, trains, and barges of HLRW traveling through most states, and to a radioactive waste dump guaranteed to leak massively if ever opened, owe a huge debt of gratitude to Democratic Leader, U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

Monday
Mar022015

Margene Bullcreek, leader of Skull Valley Goshute resistance to radioactive waste dump targeted at her community, has passed on

Margene Bullcreek. Photo by Gabriela Bulisova.It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Margene Bullcreek passed on, on Sunday, March 1st, 2015. An In Memoriam has been issued by her colleague Ian Zabarte of the Native Community Action Council (NCAC), where Margene Bullcreek has long served as President.

As emphasized in a NIRS victory tribute, published in Sept., 2006, when the U.S. Department of the Interior effectively blocked the Private Fuel Storage, LLC high-level radioactive waste parking lot dump targeted at her community in Utah:

"The greatest commendations, of course, go to Margene Bullcreek and her organization Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia Awareness (OGDA)...". More.