Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Trump’s Interior Secretary May Be The Key To Opening Yucca Mountain

by Andrew Follett

A decision by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to shrink two Nevada national monuments could remove a significant hurdle to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, experts say. “Downsizing of the monument would be a good thing as it would increase Yucca Mountain transportation options,” Lake Barrett, former deputy director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “However there are many transportation options available, so this is not a critical issue compared to other issues that need to be resolved,” Barrett said. Zinke is touring the 704,000 acre Basin and Range National Monument that spans two southeastern Nevada counties. Currently, the monument partially blocks the Department of Energy’s proposed rail route for nuclear waste shipments to Yucca Mountain. Some nuclear energy experts suspect one reason former President Barack Obama designated the monument in 2015 was to block any chance of Yucca Mountain being used to store spent nuclear fuel. The Obama administration typically sided with former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Yucca’s staunchest opponent, when it came to storing nuclear waste. Obama designated the Basin and Range National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The measure gives the president the authority to designate public lands as national monuments without congressional approval. “The perception is that the Basin and Range National Monument was enacted by the Obama Administration to thwart transportation to Yucca Mountain,” David Blee, executive director of the Nuclear Infrastructure Council, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are confident that the Trump Administration — which supports Yucca Mountain — will do what is necessary and appropriate to smooth any hurdle to this pressing national priority,” Blee said...more

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