- - Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An empty hole in the ground dug at a cost of $15 billion is the very definition of government waste. Yucca Mountain is a nuclear-waste repository built in a desolate area of the Nevada desert that has never been used because of the “not in my backyard” attitude of Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate leader. The president’s new energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, made one of his first promises a reassurance to Mr. Reid that he’ll continue the administration’s “anywhere but Yucca” policy.

Nuclear-power plants in the United States have generated about 70,000 tons of radioactive waste, and it has to go somewhere. On Wednesday, Mr. Moniz told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee he didn’t know where the waste could go. A county in Texas might agree to host a new storage project, and there’s a rumor that a county in Mississippi might be interested.

Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, the subcommittee’s chairman, wasn’t impressed. “What makes you believe,” he asked, “that another consent-based approach somewhere in the country is not going to end up 30 years later $15 billion in the hole, just like we have with Yucca Mountain?” President Obama’s refusal to use a ready-to-go repository located in one of the nation’s most desolate spots suggests that the administration wants every turn on the path of nuclear progress to lead back to Square One.

The president zeroed out Yucca Mountain funding in 2011 for political rather than technical or safety reasons, according to the Government Accountability Office. Since then, the House has kept the project alive by funding a continuing review of the suitability of Yucca to warehouse spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s 104 nuclear-power plants, currently in storage on the plants’ grounds. A 335-81 vote last month preserved $25 million for the review.

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouses gases, the terror of environmentalists. Efforts to impose impediments to nuclear power, then, makes clear the president’s intent isn’t to prevent “global warming,” but to hobble an affordable competitor to solar, wind and biofuels, the inefficient and expensive alternatives so fashionable on the left.

The consequence of forsaking nuclear power is currently on display in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011 ordered the nation’s nuclear-power plants to close, as she embraced a “green” energy policy to reduce carbon dioxide, the harmless gas we all exhale. The cost of her plan will be a staggering $2.1 trillion by 2030, reports Reuters. Eight plants have been shuttered, and the nine remaining are scheduled to close by 2022. Utilities have turned to affordable coal, burning 25 percent more during the first quarter of 2013 to stay solvent and keep the lights on. Carbon-dioxide emissions rose 1.5 percent last year and are projected to climb higher this year.

Yucca Mountain is a monument to Mr. Obama’s broken promise to provide Americans with a clean, affordable “all of the above” energy strategy. The only good news is that the big hole in the ground won’t go anywhere, and it will ready to use when common sense makes a comeback.

The Washington Times