GAO accuses Obama WH of politics in Yucca Mountain closure

posted at 11:36 am on May 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Quick — which presidential candidate pledged to restore science to its “rightful place” in government policy?  If you’ve forgotten, well, so has Barack Obama and his administration, according to the GAO.  The watchdog agency reports that the White House rushed to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal facility for political rather than scientific considerations, and that Obama’s manipulation will cost taxpayers billions of dollars and set back the nuclear industry by decades:

The Obama administration’s rushed efforts to shut down Yucca Mountain were strictly political and could set back the opening of a nuclear waste repository by more than 20 years, according to a new report by a federal watchdog.

The administration killed the repository program last year without citing technical or safety issues, and restarting the costly and time-consuming process of finding a permanent repository or an alternative solution could take decades and cost billions of additional dollars, the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday.

The Energy Department began pursuing a license for the Nevada site in 2008 but pulled support a year later when the Obama administration said it was not an attractive solution for storing nuclear waste in the United States. The administration then closed out funding for the site, eliminated jobs and contractor activities and disposed of Las Vegas properties associated with the project.

“Several DOE officials told us that they had never seen such a large program with so much pressure to close down so quickly,” the report said in reference to the repository located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

What technical or scientific rationales did the White House use in this effort?  Well … none, according to the GAO.  The administration not only didn’t bother to explain why the site had to be closed so quickly, they never checked on the safety issues involved in the hasty shutdown of the facility.  Instead, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu just declared that Yucca Mountain was not a “workable option” and demanded its closure.

There are even bigger problems that the GAO report uncovered, not all having to do with the Obama administration.  Thanks to the hasty closure, another disposal site must be found.  However, the GAO estimates that even if a decision on a new site was made today, the permit process for its use would keep it off line until … 2045.  It will take 34 years to get full approval on the next waste-disposal site, and that’s if the site avoids “cost delays” and “garners public acceptance.”

This project was not popular in Nevada, and Harry Reid is perhaps its biggest opponent.  It looks as though the Obama administration rushed to protect Harry Reid for his re-election campaign last year, at the risk of the nuclear-power industry and taxpayers.  We need to find out exactly how this decision got made, and then we need to fix the process for dealing rationally with nuclear waste.  We can’t wait 34 years to get an answer, and it’s absolutely absurd that we should have to do so.


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Let’s send the nuclear waste to Chicago.

Would probably improve the place.

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 11:38 AM

He becomes Jimmy Carter more and more each day.

Carter = Cancelled the B1 bomber.
Obama = Cancelled Yucca Mountain

Reagan = Restored the B1 bomber
Palin = Restored Yucca Mountain (I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night…so you know its good)

BobMbx on May 11, 2011 at 11:41 AM

This surprises anyone how?

Sh!t-canning Yucca Mountain was a campaign promise to Nevada to keep them from storing the waste as much as it was to the greenies to prevent an expansion in nuclear power.

teke184 on May 11, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Let’s send the nuclear waste to Chicago.

Would probably improve the place.

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Even though I live near the city, I do not think this would be a bad idea. They could start by burying it in Rahm’s backyard.

pilamaye on May 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM

You don’t say
/

Welcome to the real world

cmsinaz on May 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Costs. Necessarily. Skyrocket.

rogerb on May 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM

*crickets chirping*
-lsm

cmsinaz on May 11, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Well knock me over with a feather!

ornery_independent on May 11, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Issa better get cracking

This is unacceptable

cmsinaz on May 11, 2011 at 11:48 AM

What a dumb dumb thing to do. /facepalm

This president really doesn’t have a clue, does he?

Lawrence on May 11, 2011 at 11:49 AM

“You lie!!”

KMC1 on May 11, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Obama is the be all, end all to Democrats….so let him take on the crap. I hear he has a pretty expansive mansion.

capejasmine on May 11, 2011 at 11:49 AM

You know…

… If I remember right, Yucca Mountain was used to store spent fuel rods so they wouldn’t be kept on-site.

Wait a tick…

… aren’t the Japanese dealing with a little problem with spent fuel rods that were stored on-site?

Seven Percent Solution on May 11, 2011 at 11:49 AM

“I won.”

mwdiver on May 11, 2011 at 11:52 AM

The administration not only didn’t bother to explain why the site had to be closed so quickly, they never checked on the safety issues involved in the hasty shutdown of the facility. Instead, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu just declared that Yucca Mountain was not a “workable option” and demanded its closure.

Chu: Don’t ask me why. Close it because I said so! (stamps foot!)

Hey, let’s send the nuclear waste to France! The French get 75% of their electric power from nukes, they know what to do with the waste…

Steve Z on May 11, 2011 at 11:54 AM

Yeah, send it to Chicago….you can use one of the ever-growing empty corporate offices as a holding cell for the waste.

search4truth on May 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

GAO accuses Obama WH of politics in Yucca Mountain closure

Jug-Ears plays “politics” 24/7 – lucky for him he’s not burdened by those pesky “principles” that most of us have.

Tim_CA on May 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

His is the most intrinsically evil administration ever. 2012 cannot come fast enough. Boehner and crowd need to get aggresive immediately and take the gloves off. This guy is destroying American as fast as he can.

SANTA on May 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Yeah, send it to Chicago….you can use one of the ever-growing empty corporate offices as a holding cell for the waste.

search4truth on May 11, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Send it to :

Ron White’s Big Ol’ Farkin’ Building

233 South Wacker Drive

Chicago, IL 60606

teke184 on May 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM

We need to find out exactly how this decision got made, and then we need to fix the process for dealing rationally with nuclear waste.

Talk to the French. Nuclear waste can be recycled and stored safely in extremely small areas. Technology has come a long, long way. There’s a lot of information out there. Admittedly, nuclear energy is boring, so no one really cares, unfortunately.

visions on May 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Let’s send the nuclear waste to Chicago.

Would probably improve the place.

catmman on May 11, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Ha!…let’s put it right next to the prison they wanted to hold the Gitmo detainees in.

tencole on May 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Chicago would be nice but I hear there is plenty of room in Detroit.
Doubt they could read the warning signs in Chicago or Detroit.

Open The Door on May 11, 2011 at 12:04 PM

5/10/2011 3:40:00 PM

AUBURN HILLS – A poor third quarter is leading to major changes at United Solar Ovonic and its parent company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD).

About 300 jobs cuts representing about 20 percent of the companies’ worldwide workforce are being planned while ECD President and CEO Mark Morelli has left the company. The moves come as ECD reported a 70 percent drop in revenue and a net loss of more than $243 million in the third quarter.

Here is another example of failure in trying to transition from known, safe, dependable energy resources to politically correct green energy.Yucca Mountain served us well and could have continued to serve us until a permanent solution was available.

fourdeucer on May 11, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Poll: Obama ahead in six key states

Bad news is bad news, even this early.

Nearly Nobody on May 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Talk to the French. Nuclear waste can be recycled and stored safely in extremely small areas. Technology has come a long, long way.

The problem is that, due to the NIMBY idiots, we haven’t been able to put in many modern reactors that would produce a lot less waste.

teke184 on May 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Send it to the wh basement! Let bho deal with it there.
L

letget on May 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Bury it in the White House garden. Then they would get some REALLY interesting vegetables for the next Food Network Iron Chef special.

iurockhead on May 11, 2011 at 12:20 PM

There’s a real opportunity for some other country to make big bucks from us, if they are willing to take our nuclear waste and secure it. Of course, the liberals won’t allow that either because they are against nuclear power in any form whatsoever. They are anti-energy because energy means industry and jobs.

slickwillie2001 on May 11, 2011 at 12:22 PM

The ObaMao administration appears to be intent on destroying energy production of all competitors to the most-favored government subsidized forms. Who profits here?

onlineanalyst on May 11, 2011 at 12:28 PM

Palin will open it up again in a heartbeat.

John the Libertarian on May 11, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Adding billions to costs of nuclear disposal.
The 0bama Plan For The Destruction Of America Proceeds As Intended.

LegendHasIt on May 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Have any of you studied the geology of this area?
My Stuctural Geo prof worked a lot in this area: Art Snoke.
He was a very intelligent man, from what I can gather, conservative-minded, but I believe his professional opinion on the viability of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear repository: NOT a good idea.
Yucca Mntn from what I know of the risks, geologically, was not a good idea in the 1st place.
It’s a shame so much $$ was spent trying to make it work.
Hey Yoop?
You out there?
What’s your professional opinion on Yucca Mountain?

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Quaternary volcanism.
I think there’s probably better options for nuclear waste in the world than Yucca Mntn.

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Is there anything this tool does that isn’t political?

angryed on May 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM

angryed on May 11, 2011 at 12:43 PM

excellent question….

cmsinaz on May 11, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Of course the entire discussion about Yucca Mountain should not distract us from the main problem: CONGRESS OUTLAWED THE RECYCLING OF NUCLEAR WASTE IN THE USA!!!

This stupidity, driven by the anti-nuke wing of the Democrat party, causes us to pay forever for storing nuclear waste, rather than renewing and recycling it using Breeder Reactors (invented by the USA) and successor technologies ….like most of the rest of the world does!!!

landlines on May 11, 2011 at 12:51 PM

“Several DOE officials told us that they had never seen such a large program with so much pressure to close down so quickly,”

There’s that nagging little voice again in my head. The one that says,

“Obama want’s America to fail.”

Go away little voice! I won’t believe in conspiracies!

shick on May 11, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Maybe BO is planning to use the waste for another purpose?

Think of the cost savings of not having to buy or feed the alligators in that proposed moat! Dump the waste in strips along the border and put up signs saying,”If you enter, you WILL die!”

(My apologies to Jerry Pournelle: http://www.larryniven.net/stories/roentgen.shtml )

OBQuiet on May 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Obama administration rushed to protect Harry Reid for his re-election campaign last year, at the risk of the nuclear-power industry and taxpayers

David Horowitz, among others, points out that when it comes to a choice between country and party, international leftists always put party ahead of country. They are socialists first, and Americans second.

They’re also the enemy within.

petefrt on May 11, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM

You must also consider the form of the material that would be stored there. Unlike the pools at power plants where the fuel is stored now, at Yucca it would processed into a stable storage form like this. Vitrification is actually pretty cool mostly because it’s not leachable, thereby protecting the ground water. (But we’re not supposed to talk about solutions for that.)

If the concerns are geological, meaning that Yucca is susceptible to earthquakes and such, then the site is probably nearly perfect for storing exceptionally dangerous stuff. Suppose the cave collapses in an earthquake. Oooooo…..bad joojoo, eh? Nope. In the sealed caskets, the stuff would be just as stable as it was before, and now nearly impossible to steal without a huge mining operation.

Another option is to drill way, way down into a subducting tectonic plate, drop the waste in, then seal the hole. In a million years or so, the stuff returns “to the fire from whence it came”.

BobMbx on May 11, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Breeder Reactors (invented by the USA) and successor technologies ….like most of the rest of the world does!!!

landlines on May 11, 2011 at 12:51 PM

What does a breeder reactor breed?

A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor that generates more fissile material in fuel than it consumes

Breeders aren’t the solution.

BobMbx on May 11, 2011 at 1:09 PM

This brain trust shut down Gulf drilling based on… nothing. Gas prices went through the roof and people lost their jobs.

Then Mr. Hahvahd shut down Yucca Mountain based on… nothing. First he killed gas, now electricity. Does he expect to power the world with the rainbows he shoots out of his tush?

Roxeanne de Luca on May 11, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Is there any topic which is not political with these goons?

Schadenfreude on May 11, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Detroit has a lot of empty buildings.

John Deaux on May 11, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Hey Yoop?
You out there?
What’s your professional opinion on Yucca Mountain?

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Quaternary volcanism.
I think there’s probably better options for nuclear waste in the world than Yucca Mntn.

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Ah, yep, here I be.

When Yucca Mountain was started up as a project a couple of the mining engineers I had worked with took jobs out there. Later a number of other engineers that I had contact with cycled in and out of that project as consultants. I was aware of some of the technical issues because of those connections.

I also spent some time beating the desert west and east of there during the last big gold rush in Nevada in the 80′s. I am familiar with the stability of the rock type and the rock mechanics of the openings.

My opinion is that Yucca Mountain was a reasonable site. One thing people seem to fail to consider, beyond the stability of the region, is the potential impact on the water table. That problem is minimal there when compared to other potential sites.

Although there is always some small chance of a resurgence of volcanism in that area of the basin and range, I wouldn’t put that very high on the list as a problem. Most of the active volcanism has shifted to the northwest as the subduction zone off of Oregon and Washington became the dominate active structure acting as a ‘rock melter’.

A potential problem does exist when considering future seismic events of the type experienced in the basin and range region. Historically they have been decreasing in intensity as the major active structures migrated westward to California. Opening configuration and ground support was designed to address that issue.

There are areas within the stable craton that could be considered and would lessen the chance of problems associated with seismic events and volcanic events. In the plains, east of the Rockies, is the best area as far as stability is concerned. But, then the consideration of the potential impact on water tables and vast regional aquifers is significant. No way you would sell a repository in those areas.

If you were to place the repository in Yellowstone, and if the mega-volcano blew it’s top, the dispersal of the hot waste would hardly be noticed, when considered in the light of the total dispersion of rock dust. ;-)

Yoop on May 11, 2011 at 1:56 PM

What Obama know of science can be written on the back of his birth certificate.

Jack Bauer on May 11, 2011 at 2:13 PM

If you were to place the repository in Yellowstone, and if the mega-volcano blew it’s top, the dispersal of the hot waste would hardly be noticed, when considered in the light of the total dispersion of rock dust. ;-)

Yoop on May 11, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Thanks for the info.
It’s always good to get the facts.
So basically then Obama is a political whore on this one.
And there’s no real reason to waste everything that’s been done so far.

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 2:21 PM

So basically then Obama is a political whore on this one.

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Obama is a Democrat, so that is a given. But then again, so is Reid.

There are a lot of people in Nevada who are against using Yucca Mountain as a repository. A good number of them were stirred up by outside sources.

Then there are the people who just shrug their shoulders and point out that they give tours to the site of the atomic bomb tests, north of Las Vegas.

Yoop on May 11, 2011 at 2:34 PM

. Most of the active volcanism has shifted to the northwest as the subduction zone off of Oregon and Washington became the dominate active structure acting as a ‘rock melter’.

Well that would be the FIRST time in history that heat melted rock.

/rosie

Tim_CA on May 11, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Nearly Nobody on May 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM wrote:

Poll: Obama ahead in six key states

Bad news is bad news, even this early.

IS THIS kinda like the headline on DRUDGE today which reads:

OBAMA HITS 60% APPROVAL!!!*

*(ap poll sample skews to democrats by 17 points)…

http://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/266932/latest-ap-poll-sample-skews-democrats-17-points

Gil on May 11, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Poll: Obama ahead in six key states

Bad news is bad news, even this early.

Nearly Nobody on May 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Never accept polls at face value. The methodology here is completely flawed, so the conclusions drawn are erroneous and misleading.

College Prof on May 11, 2011 at 3:40 PM

There’s politics involved in the Obama Administration’s decision making….NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!1111eleventy!!!!

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!.

Of course the Republicans will never adequately investigate the ongoing criminal enterprise that is the Obama Administration because it wouldn’t look nice.

jnelchef on May 11, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Carter: Shut down nuclear fuel reprocessing and succeeded in reducing the construction of new nuclear power plants to zero.

Obama: Shut down the only currently viable waste repository and ended any plans to build new nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future.

Obama’s support of nuclear power is all lip service and illusion and no substance. His goal is to send us into the next ice age by orchestrating an end to cheap and abundant energy. He really meant it when he said that energy costs would necessarily skyrocket under his leadership, because that is the master plan. Science has nothing to do with it. Logic has nothing to do with it. Economics has nothing to do with it. It is simply a blind devotion to radical environmentalism that has been burned into his progressive brain by liberal educators.

NuclearPhysicist on May 11, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Then there are the people who just shrug their shoulders and point out that they give tours to the site of the atomic bomb tests, north of Las Vegas.

Yoop on May 11, 2011 at 2:34 PM

That to me, is so hilarious.
BTW-I confess IDK about the waste’s properties that they’re talking about here.
Can someone comment on that?
What kind of waste, contamination, etc are we really talking about here?
Just bcs something is ‘radioactive’ doesn’t mean it’s bad.
So what’s really the deal with this stuff they were storing there?

Badger40 on May 11, 2011 at 4:27 PM