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.