Good things come in threes

Projects with area impact deservedly kept alive in appropriations bill

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The $34 billion Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that passed the House recently is by no means perfect legislation.

But there are many important aspects of the bill to cheer about, not least the funding to continue the MOX project at Savannah River Site.

The bipartisan spending package allots $345 million to continue construction for the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility for the 2015 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. This temporarily would reverse the Obama administration’s plan to put the MOX facility on “cold standby” – a bureaucratic euphemism for termination.

The White House plan to shutter the 60-percent-complete project would cost the region about 1,800 jobs and force the Department of Energy to explore other options to dispose of Cold War-era plutonium. The MOX option turns the plutonium into power-plant fuel as part of a nuclear nonproliferation agreement with Russia.

“I am grateful that we were able to provide MOX with the additional resources to move forward with its completion, which is necessary to fulfill our international nonproliferation agreements,” Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said after the bill’s approval.

But the MOX lifeline is hardly a done deal.

A Senate version of the bill, which sets MOX funding at $400 million, has ground to a halt, along with the rest of the appropriations process, amid squabbling over amendments.

And the White House – already incensed by riders to the bill limiting federal agencies’ environmental regulatory powers – has pledged a veto, saying MOX funding “prevents the development of lower-cost technologies for disposal of excess plutonium.”

That statement is plain false.

Even if you were to believe the nebulous $31 billion “life-cycle” cost estimate Obama bureaucrats attach to MOX – which we don’t, and you shouldn’t – completing the project still is cheaper than three of the four Energy Department-proposed alternatives. The price tag of the fourth DOE option is unknown.

MOX advocates, including contractor Shaw AREVA MOX Services, say total costs are closer to $17 billion.

Only a federal bureaucrat could find wisdom in halting a project more than halfway complete to start over from scratch on one of four alternatives that is likely to end up costing more.

We see Obama’s plan to shutter the MOX facility for what it is – a blatantly partisan attempt to punish a conservative region. There’s nothing “wrong” with the technology, the facility or the contractor. The MOX project just happens to be in a red state.

House lawmakers also wisely decided to keep the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository alive by allocating $55 million to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to “support continued adjudication” of the facility’s licensing application.

Like MOX, Yucca Mountain already has billions of taxpayer dollars invested in it. And, like MOX, the Obama administration zeroed out Yucca Mountain for political reasons.

Without the deep-geologic repository in Nevada, the nation’s high-level nuclear waste – including waste stored at SRS – will remain in dangerous limbo, scattered across the country.

The Energy and Water bill also contains a provision that seeks to end further delays to the deepening of the Port of Savannah’s busy shipping channel, a long-awaited, $706 million project for which Georgia already has ponied up its 40 percent share of $266 million.

The bill contains a clause added by U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, a Savannah Republican and member of the House Appropriations Committee, that allocates $1.5 million to the Army Corps of Engineers to finalize an agreement to start construction using mostly state money. If it fails to do so by Oct. 1, the Corps would have to make weekly progress reports to Congress on the project. The clause is prudently crafted to keep the Obama administration accountable.

As we stated earlier, this bill is not perfect. It’s only $50 million below the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2014. A little more fiscal conservatism out of a Republican-controlled House would have been appreciated.

But this bill absolutely should become law. The funding for MOX diversifies the SRS mission; Yucca Mountain means safer nuclear waste storage; and a deepened Savannah harbor would boost its importance as an international industrial seaport.

It’s an important triple benefit for Georgia and South Carolina.

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myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 07/23/14 - 06:00 am
5
4
"The MOX option turns the

"The MOX option turns the plutonium into power-plant fuel as part of a nuclear nonproliferation agreement with Russia."

Yes, and are we so stupid as to believe that Putin is still holding up THEIR agreement?? Why is it ALWAYS, America that follows agreements and International guidelines, while the other Countries do whatever they want?? It's true with War, "global climate change", indusutrial regulations, health care, and the list could go on and on!!

Also, Obama targetting conservative areas?? Is that surprising? Once again, "leveling the playing field" no matter what it takes!! Punishing America and weakening her, while other Countries grow stronger every day!!

SCEagle Eye
914
Points
SCEagle Eye 07/23/14 - 06:43 am
5
2
MOX cost cover-up

The cover-up by Shaw AREVA MOX Services of the cost of the MOX project continues. Protected by Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Joe Wilson, the company is stonewalling tax payers with its absolute refusal to release its validated life-cycle cost estimate for the MOX project. If they claim the life-cycle cost is $17 billion, then PROVE IT. All we are getting is the usual dodging and weaving, protected by big government. While AREVA stonewalls us all, nobody in that company or in DOE or NNSA has been held accountable for the massive MOX debacle. Punishing and weakening the tax payer while the bank accounts of special interests grow fatter shows how far this country has sunk. The government thinks the public just accepts such behavior but one day the playing field will be leveled and there will be full accountability.

Bodhisattva
6167
Points
Bodhisattva 07/23/14 - 07:16 am
6
7
Yay! We got ours! Now go and

Yay! We got ours! Now go and cut funding for someone else. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy all of the pork headed our way. Since it's both states, the only question is: vinegar based sauce or mustard based?

hoptoad
9269
Points
hoptoad 07/23/14 - 08:34 am
4
2
IMHO, Yucca Mountain was

IMHO, Yucca Mountain was nixed by O because that's Hapless Harry Reid's home state.

avidreader
3215
Points
avidreader 07/23/14 - 09:26 am
3
3
"Like MOX, Yucca Mountain

"Like MOX, Yucca Mountain already has billions of taxpayer dollars invested in it. And, like MOX, the Obama administration zeroed out Yucca Mountain for political reasons."

In your next editorial about expenditures, could you please elaborate on the above statement. Harry Reid represents Nevada. This doesn't make sense. Why would Obama want to punish his favorite Pit Bull.

jimmymac
39440
Points
jimmymac 07/23/14 - 09:33 am
0
0
YUCCA
Unpublished

More than 10 billion was spent developing Yucca mountain. Harry got the money for his state and then got Obama to mothball it. Anyone complaining about MOX over runs and ignoring all the wasted money used at Yucca are hypocrites.

Michael Ryan
648
Points
Michael Ryan 07/23/14 - 09:34 am
3
0
Reid opposes Yucca Mountain,

Reid opposes Yucca Mountain, so it's not punishing him to nix it.

GiantsAllDay
9580
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/23/14 - 09:54 am
4
2
MyFather15, All this talk

MyFather15,
All this talk about life cycle costs, 60% complete, blah blah blah. The bottom line is an end user for the product. MOX fuel will NEVER be loaded into a United States commercial reactor. TVA knows this, Duke Power knows this, the Southern Company knows this, Clint Wolfe knows this and the Augusta Chronicle knows this. Yet to the ACES, taxpayer dollars in the CSRA is much more important than the truth. You know whereof you speak concerning law enforcement. I know whereof I speak concerning this.

dichotomy
32858
Points
dichotomy 07/23/14 - 10:43 am
3
1
Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain debacle.....MOX debacle.....the fact that America agreed to be the dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste with no plan on how to store or process it.....

"IMHO, Yucca Mountain was nixed by O because that's Hapless Harry Reid's home state."

$TRILLIONS wasted because of political ideology from a tyrant that went against the science from the best minds that had looked at the nuclear material storage problem. Fully built, $trillions spent, killed by Obama for ZERO reasons.

The taxpayers should be in total armed revolt.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 07/23/14 - 11:41 am
6
2
Leave it to The ACES
Unpublished

Always calling for less Federal spending EXCEPT when its in their own backyard. I guess bloated government boondoggles like MOX are OK as long as they are in the CSRA? That's the mentality that has got us in this mess in the first place. Everybody wants their pork pie.

Sweet son
10372
Points
Sweet son 07/23/14 - 01:09 pm
0
0
If the MOX procedure is the only way on the current books to

handle this 'left over' radioactive material then it should be funded. The 'left over' material will NEVER go away until the end of time so, we must keep going. The other aspect to this situation is that if the Federal Govt. will absolutely waste money on useless pork barrel projects then the livelihoods of nearly 2,000 current employees and countless more over the decades should be protected.

And maybe by chance the fuel will actually be used for a commercial reactor.

corgimom
32248
Points
corgimom 07/23/14 - 03:37 pm
2
2
Dichotomy, go ask the

Dichotomy, go ask the citizens of Las Vegas what they think of Yucca Mountain.

They are strongly against it. Why, when it would bring jobs?

Because it's constructed on an earthquake fault? Because they don't trust it not to contaminate the surrounding area? Because it will attract terrorists? Because nobody in their right mind wants to live by a nuclear waste dump?

Because when it was started, Las Vegas wasn't as nearly populated as it is now? Because nobody with any sense would put a nuclear waste dump near a city of 1 million people? Because Las Vegas has changed dramatically since the start of it?

corgimom
32248
Points
corgimom 07/23/14 - 03:38 pm
1
2
What Butterman said! The

What Butterman said!

The ACES never met a Federal project it didn't like in the CSRA.

But they want "less government" NIMBY.

corgimom
32248
Points
corgimom 07/23/14 - 03:42 pm
2
1
Let me correct myself. The

Let me correct myself.

The MSMA of Las Vegas is nearly 2 million, as of 2010.

justthefacts
21763
Points
justthefacts 07/23/14 - 07:51 pm
2
0
Fact

"The federal government has spent more than $9 billion and 20 years studying potential sites for the repository. After nine sites were studied between 1982 and 1986, the effort focused on Yucca Mountain. It was selected as the site with the best attributes for a repository."

hoptoad
9269
Points
hoptoad 07/23/14 - 08:40 pm
0
0
Just about any site in the US

Just about any site in the US has the possibility of a natural disaster - earthquake, tornado, flood, etc. So Yucca Mountain, one of the least populated areas in the middle of a desert is more than likely the most sensible place to put this type of facility.

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