Trump’s Nevada play leaves nation’s hazardous waste in limbo

Trump’s Nevada play leaves nation’s hazardous waste in limbo

Trump’s Yucca turnaround echoed his previous efforts to untangle a political food fight involving the federal ethanol required, an attempt that left both gas refiners and Iowa’s corn growers furious. Once once again, Trump could face political dangers by intervening in a politically charged, no-win energy quagmire.

Some lawmakers also fear that Trump is undermining their efforts to work out a compromise in which some states accept host a little number of interim waste storage sites while the search for a long-lasting solution continues.

” Not dealing with a long-term repository is going to make it more difficult to do consent-based interim storage, ’cause suddenly those communities are going to be going,’s–, we’re going to end up being long-term storage,'” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a senior House appropriator who has actually long-championed the Yucca task, told POLITICO.

” It’s a no-win scenario for any person, that does not appear to change,” stated Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is neutral on Yucca but supports developing a repository someplace.

Additional making complex the problem, he stated, was a 1982 law that prohibits the Energy Department from investing cash developing interim nuclear storage unless it has a building and construction license for Yucca Mountain.

Like Iowa, where Trump promoted the ethanol program while running in the 2016 Republican caucus, Nevada is an essential state on the electoral map. Hillary Clinton brought the state 4 years ago by simply 27,000 votes.

But switching positions on Yucca might not yield numerous political benefits for Trump, stated University of Nevada political science teacher Eric Herzik, who has actually tracked the state’s politics for years.

” If it was a political tactic, I don’t see where it will get him much in Nevada,” Herzik stated. “Trump rather pulled the rug out from under the primarily Republican lawmakers pressing to get Yucca back on track and this is a present to the Democrats in the Nevada delegation.”

Yucca Mountain has actually long been susceptible in Congress.

” I believe he needs Nevada in the election so he’s pandering and saying he will not put it in,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) stated in a regional TV interview

Congress designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 to be the ultimate house for all U.S. top-level hazardous waste, and in 2002, President George W. Bush approved a measure for the Energy Department to proceed on building and construction. Political opposition to the task in Nevada grew, and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid’s ascension as Senate majority leader in 2007 enabled him to stop it from advancing.

The result: All the waste piling up at the country’s aging nuclear reactors will remain in storage at the plant sites, even after they retire and cease operations. And plant shutdowns may be accelerating as nuclear power experiences competition with economical wind, solar and gas. The U.S. has 96 operational reactors, and 8 of them are arranged to retire in the next 5 years.

” It’s a risk management issue,” said Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat whose San Diego district sits 45 miles from the retired San Onofre Nuclear Getting Station, which closed in2013 “We’re rolling the dice and hoping nothing takes place. The dangers are borne by the people who live near these locations and the dangers are larger than if we moved it.”

Regardless of Trump’s promise to find an “innovative” solution, it’s unclear how that will be developed. The federal government is already on the hook for $28 billion in liabilities to energies, and it invested $15 billion before it shelved the task. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the administration would develop a working group, however neither DOE nor the White Home had any details on such a group– and each referred concerns to the other.

” The United States leads the world in the development of tidy and safe nuclear energy,” a DOE representative said. “The Trump Administration stands devoted to tackling our nation’s longstanding challenge to carry out a nuclear waste disposal solution which has actually stayed unresolved for decades.”

While the idea of “consent-based” siting has a feel-good tone, every state that has actually been asked up until now has actually declined the chance. The guvs of Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota and Texas– all states with excellent geology and numerous possible locations far from population centers– have forcefully rejected the notion over the last few years.

” Some people want to make Texas the radioactive waste discarding ground of America,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted in 2015, when the concern flared up in his state. “I will not let that happen.”

The nuclear industry stays confident that some solution will be discovered. Ellen Ginsberg, general counsel for the Atomic energy Institute, a trade association, said settlements were ongoing in Texas and New Mexico with celebrations interested in hosting an interim site.

” We stay hopeful that an [interim storage] location will be discovered due to the fact that there are benefits to be had– jobs to be had, a tax base to follow– there are some advantages a state and region may want to think about,” she stated.

Others fear a host of less-visible expenses from the lingering stalemate in Washington that leaves the waste scattered at retired power plants across the country.

” Communities that actually comprehend the damage are those that do not even have an operating nuclear power plant,” said Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.), a senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Shimkus, a veteran advocate for moving ahead with Yucca, argues it’s hard to activate the general public for an option to the hazardous waste problem without unduly scaring them.

” I’m not going to be the one that raises the worry that is not safe– it is safely saved,” he told POLITICO.

Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who respectively chair the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, argue that Trump’s tweet may provide a shock to efforts to move bipartisan legislation that would develop a consent-based procedure for siting nuclear waste centers. The law would also create a brand-new federal organization to handle the material.

” President Trump’s decision to accept alternatives to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain is welcome news,” Alexander said in a statement. “There is bipartisan assistance for permitting consolidated hazardous waste storage at personal facilities, and I look forward to dealing with the president to fix this issue.”

Murkowski said last week that Trump’s turnaround came as a complete surprise however that she had currently spoken with associates thinking about making a brand-new push on the consent-based siting legislation due to it.

” It is very important to send out a signal to those states that do have facilities that are holding waste that we’re not simply sitting on our hands on this,” she told POLITICO. “We recognize that we have actually got to address a problem and to do it faster instead of later.”

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