Yucca again

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 49 to 4 on June 28 to transfer some land for the proposed Yucca Mountain dump for high level nuclear wastes in Nye County, and to set a time limit for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve the project.

It was the first step in reviving the project after Republicans took House and Senate majorities and won appointment of a U.S. president.

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden of Oregon, Fred Upton of Michigan and John Shimkus of Illinois issued a joint statement saying the dump would be helpful to taxpayers, communities and ratepayers. It would certainly be helpful to their political futures—Upton has three nuclear power plants in his state, Shimkus has another three, and Walden has one. But that’s not all. Walden last week wrote an essay for East Oregonian that called for finishing the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear site that is permeated with radioactive contamination from decades of federal activity and dumping the waste at Yucca. Hanford is upstream on the Columbia River from Oregon, and the river forms the border between Oregon and Washington. Nevada uses no nuclear energy and has no nuclear power plants.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei issued a statement after the vote that never gave his position on Yucca: “I assume no one is surprised this bill started moving. The fact that the vote out of Committee was 49-4, and not a party-line vote, leads me to suspect this is a sign of things to come in the House. Another fact of note—when attempting to predict the future of this legislation—is the fact that Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry was confirmed in the Senate with a recorded vote of 62-37. We will continue to direct our efforts at providing the best possible protection for Nevadans.”