Simpson criticizes Yucca Mountain shutdown to energy officials (video)

Simpson criticizes Yucca Mountain shutdown to energy officials (video)

by
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
July 28, 2010
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
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July 28, 2010

Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson questioned a plan by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to halt plans to use Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a storage site for high-level nuclear waste.  During a House hearing Thursday with DOE undersecretary Kristina Johnson, Simpson said that the U.S. will need to find a similar place to store toxic spent nuclear fuel—or, as he called it, gunk—from power plants, even if nuclear power technology improves.

The DOE took formal steps in March to move away from using Yucca Mountain as a site for storing nuclear waste.  Simpson said that the decision was a favor from the Obama administration to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and was a bad move.

After the hearing, Simpson had stronger criticism for the Obama administration.  “The simple truth is a campaign promise made between Senator Reid and President Obama is what now dictates this county’s long-term nuclear waste storage policy,” Simpson said, according to his official website.  “Without a doubt, this Administration has chosen politics over science, and it has already cost billions of taxpayer dollars.”

When news of the plan to not use Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste was announced, Reid thanked Obama on his website.

“President Obama joined the fight against the nuclear waste dump in his Presidential campaign, and I am proud that now he will deliver on his promise,” Reid said.  “President Obama has made a critical first step towards fulfilling his promise to end the Yucca Mountain project, and I could not be happier for the people of Nevada.  Make no mistake: this represents a significant and lasting victory in our battle to protect Nevada from becoming the country’s toxic wasteland.”

Simpson, along with Idaho’s other members of Congress, supports the development of nuclear power plants with new technology that could lead to less waste.  Yet Simpson said during the hearing Tuesday that there would always be some waste, and a need for a storage facility like the one proposed at Yucca Mountain.

The DOE currently has a blue ribbon commission studying the country’s nuclear future, including how to dispose of nuclear waste.  The commission should have an interim report ready in a year, and a final report finished in 18 months.

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