Check out my latest American Solutions article about Congress’s reaction to the closure of Yucca Mountain:
In a political climate rife with partisanship, it is always a pleasant surprise to see lawmakers from both sides of the aisle coming together to solve our nation’s problems. One of the issues desperately needing bipartisan attention is nuclear power, an issue that has become particularly critical after the administration’s short-sighted announcement this year not to fund the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility.
Luckily, several House Republicans and Democrats have come together to introduce a resolution that would stop the Obama administration from ending the Yucca Mountain project.
Just days after firmly supporting the passage of Obamacare, Democrats like Majority Whip James Clyburn (SC) and John Spratt (SC) are taking a stand against President Obama’s decision to end Yucca Mountain. Even Washington Democrat Jay Inslee, who was one of the chief salesmen for the Waxman-Markey energy tax last summer, joined in this rebuke of the president’s energy policy.
As stated previously, the Yucca Mountain facility is the nation’s legally designated location for nuclear waste storage, and billions of dollars have been spent on its research and development. The administration’s decision to cut its funding without an alternative will harm the nuclear industry who has been eagerly waiting its opening.
These facts have united Republicans and Democrats, especially those whose districts and states currently store nuclear waste in temporary facilities and have done so for many years under the assumption that a long-term nuclear storage facility like Yucca Mountain would be completed. With the Yucca Mountain facility near completion, the thought of starting from scratch with a yet to be determined replacement facility is disheartening.
After already waiting years for a promised storage facility, the nuclear industry is now being told to wait even longer. This uncertainty could potentially deter further investment in nuclear energy sector and even counteract the administration’s push for increased nuclear power.
Overall, while the administration may feel that the fight over Yucca Mountain is coming to a close, the recent actions in Congress may indicate that things are only beginning to heat up. Congress still has the power over the budget and the power to decide what funding Yucca Mountain may or may not receive. With Republicans and Democrats standing together on this issue, the opportunity to positively influence the fate of Yucca Mountain and alter the administration’s current course dramatically increases.
As the Obama administration has acknowledged, nuclear power needs to be an important part of our energy future. However, a nuclear waste repository like Yucca Mountain is needed soon in order to help the nuclear industry grow.