Saturday’s editorial argues that the
Some time over the next year, presumably, President Barack Obama will address the nation and ask us to accept some piece of legislation to control the nation’s carbon emissions.
It may require some sacrifice, our president will tell us, but a combination of scientific evidence and national-defense threats will make the bill vital to securing our nation’s future. Indeed, even during his inaugural address, Obama pledged that in our policy-making, “we will restore science to its rightful place.”
That rhetorical flourish, however,
has lost some of its credibility following the Obama administration’s recent
decision to close the
Gov. Mark Sanford has already
decried the decision as “Chicago-style patronage politics” intended to boost
the difficult re-election prospects of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of
So, what is the science behind this
decision? A very unhappy U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) recently grilled U.S.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu about this decision in a committee hearing. “It’s
an unfolding of issues that continued, and I would be happy to talk to you in
detail about some of the issues, but the President has made it very clear that
it is not an option,”
The actual science is apparently based on some concern about the timeframe between 10,000 years and 1 million years, when heavy rain and snow may begin to seep through the rock of Yucca Mountain and drag trace amounts of radiation through the remainder of the mountain into the water table, and thus into some future Nevada farmer’s grazing fields. We agree that it is important to make all our decisions with future generations in mind, but given that all of recorded history encompasses only 6,000 years, we would also hope that over the next ten millennia our nation’s schools will improve enough for us to come up with a better solution.
The cost of abandoning the project
is staggering. Nuclear power companies - and their customers - have already
contributed $30 billion toward the
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn supports continued
work on the project, and has said Congress will overrule the President. Just in
case it doesn’t work out that way, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster (in an
act far more sensible than his last self-serving lawsuit threat over a
now-defunct provision of health-care reform) has filed a petition to intervene
in the process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, pursuing a legal course
to restart the
In his search for a scientific-sounding response to the Yucca issue, the Energy Secretary stammered about salt domes, describing them as geologically stable for “up to hundreds of millions of years” (just for point of reference: we evolved away from chimps 5 million years ago). So we can probably guess that the next step for the blue-ribbon panel is to use the next decade or so to select a salt dome to dump the waste - until a salt-dome-state senator becomes Majority Leader, his party takes the White House, and the search must again begin anew.
For more on Yucca Mountain, see the following links: