Democrats’ Mission to Kill Yucca Mountain Rejects Sound Science, American Energy Security, and American Jobs
May 7, 2009

Contact: Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797 Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov  

Democrats’ Mission to Kill Yucca Mountain Rejects Sound Science, American Energy Security, and American Jobs 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement last night that Yucca Mountain is “history.”  

 “The Democrats’ approach to Yucca Mountain is clear – politics trumps science,” Senator Inhofe said. “As of today, over $7.7 billion has been spent researching Yucca Mountain as a potential repository site, and neither the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, nor any of our National Labs involved in conducting studies and evaluating data have concluded that there is any evidence to disqualify Yucca Mountain as a repository. Taxpayers face up to $11 billion in liability costs for the Department of Energy’s failure to begin accepting used fuel in 1998.  Unless the Department begins accepting used fuel by 2020, that liability will grow an additional $500 million with each passing year.   

“It is particularly interesting that Majority Leader Reid would choose to make this announcement before the League of Conservation Voters. The eco-liberal agenda – and apparently the Democrats’ agenda - is to kill nuclear energy, period.   By attempting to kill Yucca Mountain, Democrats will significantly slow the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States, and, as a result, kill thousands of jobs and a chance to strengthen America’s energy security.”  

Back on Janunary 14, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared, "Yucca Mountain is not a jobs program."  According to a report from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Yucca Mountain Project accounted for 3,650 jobs and contributed $195.7 million to the state's economy in the year 2000 alone.  However, due to Sen. Reid’s continued efforts to starve the project of its needed funding, 1,860 jobs have been cut since 2007.  Historically, 80-90% of those jobs have been in Nevada.  Sen. Reid’s answer seems to be: “Hold on, green jobs are coming.”  Not much comfort for former employees of the Yucca Mountain Project who are now struggling to provide for their families.

 

The Obama Administration’s approach to Yucca Mountain led Senator Inhofe and sixteen of his Republicans colleagues to send a letter on April 29, 2009, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking about his comment that Yucca Mountain is “not an option” for disposing nuclear waste.  Specifically, in the letter, the Senators raised several questions about the legal, scientific, and technical justifications for the Obama Administration’s decision to derail the Yucca Mountain project, which has been studied for decades and supported by the National Academy of Sciences and other leading scientific organizations as a viable storage site for nuclear waste. 

 

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