Yucca Mountain: Could Nuclear Energy Be Killed By Senators "Playing Nice"?


DATE: June 25, 2002

BACKGROUND: Opening the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository must be voted on by the Senate by July 25, 2002 or it may be killed forever, and with it, the future of nuclear energy in the United States.

When Nevada's Governor Kenny Guin vetoed the repository's opening, under federal law, he set in started a clock running for the House and Senate to vote overrule him and approve the opening. That clock runs out on July 25. After that the issue may not be revisited. Without the repository the nuclear industry will, in time, choke on its own waste.

The House acted quickly to override Guin and a similar measure has been voted out of committee in the Senate. The law permits any Senator to bring it to the floor at any time. Such a move cannot be filibustered.

However, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle doesn't want a discussion and vote on Yucca Mountain to come to the floor and, so far, no Senator has had the will to oppose him. They are reluctant to break a tradition of not bringing motions to the floor that the majority leader has not scheduled.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: It is time for the Senate to deliberate. To decide the future of nuclear energy based on arcane Senate customs rather than on sincere reflection would be a disservice to the public and would make of mockery of the Senate's reputation as the world's greatest deliberative body.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Senators should remember: They are Americans first and Senators second. Yucca Mountain was built to be America's single safe, secure repository for spent nuclear fuel. In Yucca mountain, this fuel would be virtually safe from terrorist attack and available for use many times over when we finish development of new nuclear fuel recycling methods. The Senate should not decide this issue by default with neither deliberation nor a vote because of its tradition over which Senator sets its schedule.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: You can find both brief and in-depth discussions of why Yucca Mountain is the safe, reliable repository for nuclear fuel in The National Center's Nuclear Policy Center at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NuclearPolicyCenter.html.


by Tom Randall, Director
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or TRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613