U.S. Court of Appeals says Yucca Mountain licensing can resume

U.S. appeals court ruling says laws must be followed

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013 1:07 PM
Last updated 8:57 PM
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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was ordered Tuesday to resume processing a license application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, almost four years after the Obama administration stopped the project.

The District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals ruling was in response to petitions from Aiken County and the states of Washington and South Carolina, all claiming the commission was legally obligated to continue work on the project, even if the President objected.

“This case raises significant questions about the scope of the Executive’s authority to disregard federal statutes,” Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the 29-page opinion, noting that the commission “continued to violate then law” by abandoning Yucca Mountain.

The Obama administration halted the project in 2009, later creating a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to explore alternatives for disposing of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, defense wastes and other radioactive materials.

Tuesday’s ruling, however, said laws must be followed, regardless of political opinions.

“The underlying policy debate is not our concern,” Kavanaugh wrote. “The policy is for Congress and the President to establish as they see fit in enacting statutes, and for the President and subordinate executive agencies to implement within statutory boundaries.”

The president and federal agencies, he added, “may not ignore statutory mandates or prohibitions merely because of policy disagreement with Congress.”

The court, in granting a writ of mandamus, will compel the commission to follow the law and continue processing the U.S. Energy Department’s application for the Yucca Mountain repository.

The ruling pleased officials in South Carolina, where radioactive waste once destined for Yucca Mountain remains stored at Savannah River Site.

“This decision reaffirms a fundamental truth: the President is not above the law,” S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement. “His administration cannot pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore.“

In 2009, the Obama Administration announced plans to withdraw the 8,000 page Yucca Mountain application, and funding for the project was later discontinued.

The lawsuits were filed shortly thereafter, Wilson said.

Under the 1983 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 65 separate utility companies signed contracts to enable a nuclear waste repository and in 2002 Yucca Mountain became the designated location.

Wilson said he hopes the project can be resurrected.

“Congress passed laws designating Yucca Mountain as America’s nuclear lock box,” he said. “The American people have paid over $31 billion (including interest) towards that project. The federal government has our money, while we still have to deal with their nuclear waste.”

Although the ruling orders work on the project to resume, it will be difficult to make progress without adequate funding at the discretion of the government, said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

“The court ruling may well not mean much,” he said, noting that there is just $11.1 million in the hands of the NRC to review the license.

“The ruling simply delays the death of the Yucca project as the court recognizes that few funds remain and that Congress may not appropriate more, so that the project will essentially end when the funds are expended,” Clements said. “Thus, Aiken County and the other petitioners can take little comfort from the ruling that the Yucca project is still alive; to the contrary the lack of funds as affirmed by the court means that the project will conclude once those funds are rapidly expended.”

In lieu of Yucca Mountain, the Obama administration’s commission has suggested “consolidated, interim storage” of nuclear waste until permanent solutions can be devised.

Savannah River Site has been discussed as venue for such a project, due to its existing nuclear infrastructure and expertise.

LEARN MORE

Read the full ruling at www.scag.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Yucca-Mountain-Order.pdf

Comments (17) Add comment
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allhans
25542
Points
allhans 08/13/13 - 03:02 pm
6
1
Well praise the Lord.

Well praise the Lord.

BamaMan
3231
Points
BamaMan 08/13/13 - 03:15 pm
3
2
Well,

BOO ya!

SCEagle Eye
993
Points
SCEagle Eye 08/13/13 - 03:38 pm
4
6
ruling spells doom for Yucca

The court's ruling is clear - once the $11.1 million that the NRC has on hand is spent then the reinitiated license review can once again halt. The dissenting judge said that would be enough to unpack the boxes with documents and then pack them up again. Aiken County or the State of SC may claim victory but it's as hollow as a bamboo reed. Time to get on with finding a new storage site and end all the talk about bringing spent fuel to SRS.

dichotomy
43971
Points
dichotomy 08/13/13 - 03:50 pm
7
3
Yucca IS the storage site. No

Yucca IS the storage site. No new permanent storage solution has even been proposed by Obama's "blue ribbon" committee. More than likely the only thing blue about them is that they are nothing but a bunch of blue nose drunks. At any rate, Yucca was and is the only viable solution. We've got $31 billion of sunk money in Yucca, and it should be completed and become operational for it's intended purpose. Anything else is a travesty based on nothing more than tree hugger ideology and zero science with total disregard for the taxpayers and the dangers of scattered storage.

Mr. Thackeray
1210
Points
Mr. Thackeray 08/13/13 - 03:57 pm
3
2
“may not ignore statutory

“may not ignore statutory mandates or prohibitions merely because of policy disagreement with Congress.”

Well someone should tell O' he thinks he can ignore laws!

whatmistake
100
Points
whatmistake 08/13/13 - 04:00 pm
5
2
So what?

Obama will ignore the ruling just as he ignores any statute or legal opinion he doesn't like. And only a few billion had been spent before Obama decided to placate Harry Reid and kill the project. It's only the taxpayer's money, after all. There's plenty more where that came from.

SCEagle Eye
993
Points
SCEagle Eye 08/13/13 - 03:59 pm
4
4
oops, comment check

Make that - the ruling is as hollow as a bamboo REID. Senator Reid, by the way, evidently said at a news conference that the ruling is "completely meaningless." A read of the ruling affirms that. Back to the nuclear waste drawing board - meaning that it's all in the hands of Congress. Now, we can all breathe easy....

Bizkit
44227
Points
Bizkit 08/13/13 - 04:22 pm
3
3
Hopefully just the tip of the

Hopefully just the tip of the iceberg of court rulings to force Obama to obey the law. He has always had a problem obeying the laws even as a youth with drug use and grand theft auto. I guess some things never change.

Darby
35585
Points
Darby 08/13/13 - 05:00 pm
5
2
Wait just one dadgum minute here.

Are you people suggesting, even for a second, that OzBama doesn't get to ignore any law or rule that he objects to?

That's just plain ridiculous!

nocnoc
63954
Points
nocnoc 08/13/13 - 05:16 pm
5
1
Less people forget We got what he promised and then some.

Our President a few years ago was preaching the evils of COAL and then put 10,000+ miners out of work.

He was touting the Clean Nuclear Power, solar, and Winds as the 3 replacements for coal.

In true form he went on the cripple coal production.
Then moved to killed the already planned for Long Term Nuclear storage facility licensing process to store the spent fuel? Hamstringing 2nd largest energy industry also.

He Bankrolled Solar to the tune of $$$$ Billions and they went bankrupt taking pockets of $$$ with them, which they donated some to his last campaign.

Let recap where our Alternative energy is coming from, other than coal.

The United States is home to 104 nuclear power plants, located in 31 states. Together, these plants generate almost 20 percent of America’s electricity, or approximately 8.5 percent of its total energy.

Solar Power still only accounts for 0.1% of net electricity generated in the United States.

U.S. Wind Power Accounted for 1.4 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States. Though wind power has increased substantially since 1970, it constitutes only a small fraction of U.S. electricity supply. In 2012, wind power accounted for 3.5 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S.

20 + 8.5 + 0.1 = 28.6%

Remember he is killing coal and coal power in the United States accounted for 42% of the country's electricity production.

Now Checkout http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/infographics/
and click on the PLANNED Power plants to be closed by the EPA.

Sources of Data:
http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/energy-overview/nuclear-2/
http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/energy-overview/wind/
http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2013/08/09/growth-in-renewable...

Lou Stewall
473
Points
Lou Stewall 08/13/13 - 06:18 pm
5
3
The Principle of the Ruling

Could be far-reaching, if it were applied to his hundreds, if not thousands of violations of his sworn Constitutional duties as chief executive.
Each time you fill up your tank, half is going to his misguided policies.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 08/13/13 - 07:19 pm
4
1
Nuclear
Unpublished

Although a little better than leaving spent fuel in “oversized trashcans” at each nuclear site, Yucca Mountain is not the best choice available. Ask yourself, would you think it wise to take all of your used motor oil and just store it? No, you recycle it. We recycle almost everything nowadays except one of our most valuable energy resources, spent nuclear fuel. To store the spent fuel in anyplace is a huge waste and leaves us with tons of dangerous waste. France recycles its spent fuel and has about 80% of its electricity from nuclear power.

Dixieman
21463
Points
Dixieman 08/13/13 - 09:24 pm
4
2
Yay!

At least the courts of this country sometimes -- some of them -- still follow the law and the Constitution unlike the Pres who has sworn to support and defend it and to faithfully execute the laws of this land but who violates his oath daily.

Gage Creed
21777
Points
Gage Creed 08/13/13 - 09:41 pm
3
4
So if the population of

So if the population of France (>60M) is 20% of the population of the United States (>313M) and they generate 80% of their power from nukes, if we generate 20% of our power from nukes, does that mean we generate 100% of France's power from our Nukes without using about 18% regenerated fuel?

If I change my insurance 3 times, do I get it for free?

SCEagle Eye
993
Points
SCEagle Eye 08/14/13 - 06:32 am
2
1
Graham's socialist MOX plant

The big-government big spenders love the plutonium fuel (MOX) project at SRS. The socialist team of Senator Lindsey Graham-Rep. Joe Wilson-Obama have already wasted $4 billion on the mismanaged MOX plant and there's another $4 billion to go just for construction. Then comes the big money to run the project. But there are not even any customers for this boondoggle. These socialist, anti-tax payer politicians - who parade as fiscal conservatives when convenient - are stealing our money and must be stopped!!!!!

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 08/14/13 - 12:11 pm
3
0
MOX fuel is a great idea.
Unpublished

MOX fuel is a great idea. The administration of the project is what is the problem. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 08/14/13 - 12:14 pm
2
1
Of course there are no
Unpublished

Of course there are no customers for MOX, since there are no MOX power plants yet. Why would someone build a MOX reactor if they didn't already have fuel for it? If you build it, they will come.

Little Lamb
53967
Points
Little Lamb 08/14/13 - 01:06 pm
2
1
MOX Plants

I think the design of MOX fuel is such that it can be burned in existing uranium oxide fueled reactors with only licensing modifications. No hardware modifications are necessary.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 08/14/13 - 07:27 pm
1
1
Spent Fuel
Unpublished

While MOX fuel is not recycled fuel from our current nuclear plants, Little Lamb is correct on its use in our current plants. Don't know about Humble Angela, needs to do more research,

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 08/15/13 - 09:12 am
1
2
Mox fuel currently isn't
Unpublished

Mox fuel currently isn't recycled from spent reactor fuel, but it certainly could be.

t3bledsoe
14291
Points
t3bledsoe 08/15/13 - 10:32 am
0
2
Non-professional explanation of MOX

MOX means Mixed OXide fuels. The MOX process takes spent fuel rods and ( supposedly ) weapons grade plutonium and MIXES these into a safe source of nuclear fuel to be "burned" in private nuclear power plants.

MAN: there is nothing to argue over today !!

SCEagle Eye
993
Points
SCEagle Eye 08/17/13 - 11:18 am
1
1
US MOX is experimental

The US MOX program, which is rightly in deep trouble due to cost overruns and mismanagement, proposes to make MOX from a mixture of surplus weapons plutonium and uranium. MOX made from weapons plutonium has NEVER been used on a commercial scale anywhere in the world and NEVER undergone any testing at all in a boiling water reactor so is regarded as a "new fuel form" by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. So, technical questions linger but the biggest problem is that more than $20 billion is yet to be spent on MOX if it goes forward. This includes the whopping $540 million per year operating cost of the MOX plant. No wonder the big-government crowd and AREVA are drooling at getting its hands on tax-payer funding of MOX. Uranium fuel is far cheaper and other methods of plutonium disposition are much cheaper. Fiscal conservatives are finally alert to the MOX boondoggle and it is stumbling and may, deservedly, fall.

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