Friday, February 05, 2010

Congress Will Fund Yucca Mountain Over Obama's Objection

Although it is great political theater for President Obama and Department of Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to recommend zero funding in the FY 2011 federal budget for Yucca Mountain, it is not good science and Congress will verify our assertion. Zero funding will kill the project and several hundred current jobs related to the development of the repository. Moreover, Congress already approved Yucca Mountain as the repository for our nation's nuclear waste. The Center supports the restoration of funding to continue with the development of Yucca Mountain as the repository for the nation's nuclear waste.

The issue came to Congress in April 2002 after Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn vetoed President Bush's designation of Yucca Mountain as the nation's High Level Waste (HLW) repository. Bush, acting on the recommendation of Energy Secretary Spenser Abraham, approved the site on February 15. The Center supported the designation of Yucca Mountain as the HLW repository and lobbied hard for passage of legislation to make it so.

Norris McDonald at Yucca Mountain in 2002

According to the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which was designed to fast-track the Yucca Mountain project through Congress, both the Senate and the House only had 90 days to override Governor Guinn's veto once it had been made. After that, Guinn's veto would stand – and the nation would be forced to look elsewhere for a solution to the nuclear waste problem. The Yucca Mountain legislative battle came to an end on July 9, 2002, when the Senate voted 60-39 in favor of S.J. Res 34, overriding Governor Kenny Guinn's veto of the Yucca Mountain project. The House passed H.J. Res. 87 on April 25, approving Yucca Mountain with a margin of 306-117.
Congress will again override the Obama/Chu veto and will restore funding to develop Yucca Mountain. And that is a good scientific decision that we support. (

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