Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The GOP debate: Don't bet on Yucca Mountain

The Obama administration's controversial decision to zero-fund (and effectively cancel) the Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository - in violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act - was generally regarded as a decision which would only be reversed by a subsequent administration. (One can argue about whether the 1987 amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act mandating Yucca mountain was a good or fair idea, but it still is the law, bad law as it may be.)
Magic 8-ball

So, how do the prospects for that look? Judging by last night's Republican debate in Las Vegas: outlook not so good.

Each of the candidates generally opposed the repository, or at the very least, refused to indicate a willingness to go against the Obama administration's policy. Newt Gingrich appeared to give a qualified endorsement, nodding that the scientific community had generally found the site to be one of the most suitable to the task, while acknowledging strong local opposition.

Rep. Ron Paul (who I will admit to personally being a fan of), put it this way:
 I approach it from a state’s rights position. What right does 49 states have to punish one state and say, “We’re going to put our garbage in your state”? I think that’s wrong.
Certainly, there's something to be said for the federalist approach, particularly if we're looking for lasting solutions. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney appeared to echo the sentiments of the Blue Ribbon Commission, indicating he'd prefer a competitive market-based bidding process by states to host a potential repository contingent upon suitable geology.

CNN has the full debate transcript up, so you can judge for yourself.

But as to the final fate of Yucca Mountain, including a reversal of fortune by a future administration? Don't bet on it.