Friday, January 29, 2010

President Obama, Nuclear Power and Yucca Mountain

The nuclear industry and their supporters got very excited when President Obama emphasized his support for nuclear power during his State of the Union address. We believe the president finally got off the fence on this issue in order to get support from Republicans for his health care and climate/energy proposals. Yet we are left to wonder how President Obama can support nuclear power development in the United States while stifling the nuclear renaissance by defunding Yucca Mountain, which was authorized by Congress and certified (Application) by the U.S. Department of Energy to be the national repository for nuclear waste.

On Thursday at a conference sponsored by the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Obama Climate Czar Carol Browner stated that the administration supports nuclear power. The next day she announced to the press that Yucca Mountain is off the table. In our opinion, these are contradictory statements. To take Yucca Mountain off the table is to kill the nuclear renaissance. Browner announced a 15-member panel, headed by Rep. Lee Hamilton and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, to study an alternatives for 18 months and issue a report with 24 months. (Las Vegas Sun, 1/29/10)

Of course, Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is the Senate Majory Leader, so we understand the president's desire to please a Congressional boss. But America's energy security and the climate change threat are more important than capitulating to Senator Reid's opposition to Yucca Mountain. Yucca Mountain is the ideal location to store (and reprocess) our nation's spent nuclear fuel. President Obama should restore funding to continue the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project in his FY 2011 Budget proposal.

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