That’s conclusion of the Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit organization promoting “freely-functioning energy markets,” which is calling on the president to revive the Yucca Mountain project.
Back in 1982, nuclear energy producers began paying fees to the federal government earmarked for construction of a safe and secure place to store their nuclear waste.
In 2002, Congress and President George W. Bush approved the Yucca Mountain site, located in Nevada about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Wastes were to be stored there in highly stable geological formations that have remained seismically inactive for millions of years.
But in March 2010, the Obama administration decided to withdraw funding from the project, the nation’s only permanent repository for high-level spent nuclear fuel authorized by current law.
Critics of the project, including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, cited environmental concerns. But the Institute for Energy Research pointed out that a 1,000-megawatt nuclear-electric plant produces about one metric ton of waste per year, compared to 1 million tons from a similar size coal plant.
“The Obama administration has been handling this critical issue with a complete lack of consistency,” the Institute stated.
“On one hand the president extols the benefits of nuclear power in his speeches, and on the other he advocated closing the byproduct storage facility that ensures it can have a future.”
Nuclear power currently accounts for 19 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
The Institute makes several points regarding the project:
Yucca Mountain has already undergone 30 years of scientific examination, and American taxpayers have spent $15 billion on studying and developing the project.
The money that has been collected from nuclear energy producers since 1982 should be used as intended, to create a safe repository for nuclear waste.
The government’s failure to provide a viable repository has limited the growth of the nuclear energy industry.
The Institute concludes: “Being a relatively safe and environmentally efficient way of generating electricity, nuclear power will continue to be an important, even indispensable, part of the U.S. energy mix.
“For this reason, the revival of the Yucca Mountain facility makes the best economic and energy sense for America’s nuclear-powered future.”