Designated law-breaker at DOE still wants budget approved

This interaction between Congressman Shimkus and Secretary Moniz took place during a the Energy and Commerce Committee FY2015 DOE budget hearing on April 3, 2014. It’s too bad that hearings like this have strict time limits imposed on the questioners.

There is a good reason why I would be exceedingly reluctant to accept any kind of political appointment. This video shows how painful it can be to follow politically imposed marching orders that are in direct violation with the oath of office taken by public servants to uphold and defend the constitution, including obeying duly implemented laws.

I remain convinced that there is more to the effort to halt Yucca Mountain than just keeping used nuclear fuel out of Nevada. It probably has more to do with implementing the High Level Waste section of the antinuclear strategy document developed and agreed to during the Conference for a Nuclear Free 1990s held in April 1991.

High-Level Waste

  • Continue to stall until Congress gives up on the repository program and the progress grinds to a halt
  • Recognize that DOE itself is responsible for delays in characterizing the Yucca Mountain site
  • (Aside: It looks like the antinuclear activists found a better way to implement their strategy. They worked long and hard to create a situation where they could take over and DOE and ensure that delays would be imposed. End Aside.)

  • Acknowledge that Yucca Mountain is not suitable, will not be found suitable, and cannot be licensed in accordance with 10 CFR Part 60 (“the only science in the system is political science”)
  • Store spent fuel onsite using dry cask storage containers, while society rethinks its approach for HLW disposals
  • Reject efforts by the Nuclear Waste Negotiator to negotiate an agreement for siting the repository

Please – can anyone explain to me how an aging Senator from a geographically large state (number 7 on the list of states by geographic area) with such a low population density (number 42 out of 50) that it only has 6 out of 535 votes in the Electoral College has accumulated so much power than he can make the entire country dance on the strings that he manipulates? Why have Reid’s colleagues elected him to the position of power that he apparently holds? Why can’t any of them tell him to go pack sand?

As Shimkus asked Secretary Moniz (as the representative of the President), “Where in the law is a “consent-based” approach?” It sounds nice, but did President Obama think a “consent-based” approach would work for the Affordable Care Act, vehicle mileage standards, or new emission standards? Living and leading in a democracy means following the rules agreed to by the majority of the people’s representatives, not by picking and choosing which rules seem convenient at decision time. That is especially important for people who are supposed to serve the public, not their puppet masters.

(I have my theories on the underlying sources of Reid’s power, but I would like to hear yours.)

About Rod Adams

61 Responses to “Designated law-breaker at DOE still wants budget approved”

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  1. Robert Hargraves says:

    Read “Extortion” by Peter Schweitzer to understand how politicians gain power and money. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/opinion/politicians-extortion-racket.html?_r=0

  2. Robert Hargraves says:

    Actually Harry Reid’s life story is very interesting, http://www.businessinsider.com/harry-reid-life-story-2012-11?op=1

    • John T Tucker says:

      They dont mention the mining interests.

      ( http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2009/02/harry-reid-gold-member )

      Reid has supported a 1872 law that allowed mining interests to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for minerals practically stolen from federal lands.

      And yes, This one issue is why I dont like or respect the man. I consider this theft from the American people. Everything else is icing on the cake.

  3. Jerry says:

    Harry Reid had a TV campaign ad that showed “radioactive” trucks driving down the Las Vegas strip, and ended with a pelican bird that had been oiled in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

    For antinuclear groups, the waste “problem” is simply another way to stop nuclear energy. An engine can be stopped by either plugging the air intake, or plugging the exhaust pipe. Yucca mountain – in their eyes – is the nuclear industry’s exhaust pipe.

    Antinuclear groups cite many possible reasons to stop nuclear power, yet NEVER reveal THEIR reason for opposing it. The illusion is that these people really “care” about the things they claim are “problems”. The only thing they really worry about is the abundant amount of energy that nuclear can eventually provide, and competitively put an end to expensive energy.

  4. Ed Leaver says:

    I’m perplexed. The Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 (S1240) contains specific language calling for “consent based” repository siting, in agreement with recommendations in the Final Report of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, of which Dr. Moniz was a member. Now admittedly, a bill in committee is not quite the same as established law, which is what Rep. Shimkus was focused upon, and perhaps the Secretary had good reason to let that particularly sleepy dog lie. But does anyone know if Dr. Moniz was able to squeeze mention of pending S1240 elsewhere in his testimony? Does the Administration have a position on this bill?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Ed Leaver

      I need to go back to my civics classes, but I think I recall that a draft bill that never made it out of committee during one session of Congress has no standing in the next session and has to start the process of being introduced all over again.

      Anyone can feel free to correct me.

      • Andrew Benson says:

        Rod, you’re correct about the rules. In fact, any bill that makes through any number of steps of the way through the legislative process but stops short of the president’s signature or the override of his veto has no standing in the next session and must start the process over again.

        However, this bill was introduced in the current session of Congress and is therefore, still active. Remember, sessions of Congress last two years.

        https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s1240

  5. George Carty says:

    Is Harry Reid essentially blackmailing other politicians who have visited Las Vegas? As in he’s threatening that what those politicians got up to in Vegas WON’T “stay in Vegas” if they cross him?

  6. Rick Armknecht says:

    As for Reid’s power source, I think it is all about seniority. I understand that his mob name was “Mister Cleanface” — but it the mob is not his source of power.

    As for high-level waste: what has DOE done to move the spent fuel to Canada (and South Korea, and other CANDU- using nations) in the form of DUPIC (Direct Use of PWR fuel In CANDU) fuel? That would seem like a certain win-win arrangement.

  7. Pete51 says:

    William Magwood recently announced he is leaving the NRC to take a position with the OECD.

    http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/washington/us-nrc-commissioner-magwood-to-depart-for-oecd-21356606

    Mr. Magwood will need to be replaced. It appears, based on recent history, that opposition to Yucca Mountain is a prerequisite to becoming an NRC commissioner. Was Allison Macfarlane really qualified to serve on the NRC, let alone be at the top position? I think I remember Rod having a few opinions about Commissioner Macfarlane when she was first nominated.

    George Apostolakis’ term on the NRC is ending this year, as well, so that makes two NRC openings. Will Harry Reid confirm anyone who is not firmly opposed to Yucca Mtn?

    • Atomikrabbit says:

      These two upcoming replacement appointments could be disastrous.

      Reid has always hated Magwood, thinking Magwood double-crossed him on Yucca voting. And, no, Harry will not abide (through his surrogate on the confirming committee, Boxer) a non-anti-Yucca nomination. The only way Sviniki was re-confirmed was in a tit-for-tat deal for Macfarlane.

      If I was chief anti strategist I would profer a technically qualified “non-proliferationist” like Frank von Hippel. If this continues, the NRC voting records may become as lopsided (in the opposite direction) as the recent series of 4 against 1.

      • AndyH says:

        Wow, this is worrisome. Hopefully we get people with some sanity replacing them and not another like Jaczko.

        By the way, if anyone here has the time, please take a glance at the NRC page on Wikipedia. It is completely dominated by Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists information.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Regulatory_Commission#Criticisms

        • AndyH says:

          I am working right now to add a section on criticism of the NRC from the pro-nuclear point of view. So if you know of sources to add to that please do so, right now it is on the bottom of the criticism section. If it gets large enough we can make it a new sub heading on the page.

  8. mjd says:

    “Please – can anyone explain to me how an aging Senator from a geographically large state (number 7 on the list of states by geographic area) with such a low population density (number 42 out of 50) that it only has 6 out of 535 votes in the Electoral College has accumulated so much power than he can make the entire country dance on the strings that he manipulates? Why have Reid’s colleagues elected him to the position of power that he apparently holds? Why can’t any of them tell him to go pack sand?”

    Yes I can. It is related to the ugly nature of dysfunctional politics currently happening in this county right now. Things are more “let’s get even” and who can win the battle, even when winning might not be the best path. He can win right now, so his support is with anyone who feels they have a score to settle over some past perceived grievance.

    Google the “screw Nevada law”. Reid is still getting even for what he sees as a grievance. In one way I see his point as his constituent majority doesn’t want Yucca so he’s representing them. Contrary to opinions, nothing illegal has been done as I see it. The system is FUBAR, congress passed a law but they didn’t fund it. Reid controls funding. The system allows this stalemate.

    • Ed Leaver says:

      Excuse me? Perhaps I’m ignorant, but to what unfunded law is it to which you refer? There may well be subtitles of which we are both unaware, but my understanding is that Yucca Mtn was financed from the 0.1 c/kWh nuclear fuel tax, and that while additional funding was not sought after the administrative shutdown, DoE had enough on hand to complete the Safety Evaluation Report (SER) that was point of Rep. Shimkus’ inquiry. See Reviving Yucca Mountain:

      “As well as instructing its own staff to complete work on the SER, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has requested the Department of Energy (DoE) to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to enable the completion of the environmental review of the application to build the Nevada facility.”

      • Old Nuke says:

        The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act–1987, if memory serves–modified the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, and in doing do, designated Yucca Mountain as the only site to undergo characterization for a spent fuel repository. That’s still the law of the land. As for the mill/kWh waste fee, notwithstanding recent court decisions directing DOE to justify its continued collection or cease collecting it, you are correct that the Nuclear Waste Fund exists, but Congress still has to appropriate money to DOE (and NRC) from the Fund for work on Yucca Mountain. No appropriations, no work–and Mr. Reid has essentially blocked appropriations that would be needed to do any sort of meaningful work. If you recall, the the work that the NRC is now doing (as directed by the courts) is using previously appropriated funds that had not been expended. I don’t know what DOE’s situation is vis-a-vis funds left over from previous appropriations, but if they have anything remaining, my guess is that it’s not much.

        For DOE to be able to (legally) begin working on something other than Yucca Mountain, the NWPAA would have be superseded by another law, and Congress has not yet passed legislation to accomplsh that. Ain’t politics grand?

        • mjd says:

          Exactly. “The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act–1987″ is the “screw Nevada law”. Its history is important to understand Reid’s position. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with his action, but I understand what is driving him on this issue.
          “Ain’t politics grand?” you-betcha!

      • Ed Leaver says:

        Ah. Okay. From NRC seeks input on Yucca Mountain restart
        “According to the NRC, its request for input will help it to ensure “the most efficient and productive use” of the $11 million it has left to resume the licensing process.”

        $11 million is a good start, but that’s all it is. Perhaps Rep. Shimkus’ was wondering “so where’s the beef?” Are we going to do this thing or not? I’m personally very much in favor of consent-based siting, if such can be arranged. But if Yucca Mountain be but an errand of fools, I’m also very much in favor of upholding the honor of fools and completing the errand.

        I don’t want to see lack of a repository — permanent or interim toward fuel recycling — as continued excuse to do nothing effective about global warming.

  9. Paul W Primavera says:

    Ah, Aesop’s fable of the fox and the grapes comes to mind. You vote Democrat hope and change, and you get Democrat hopelessness and changelessness. You vote RINO hypocrisy and you get RINO hypocrisy. Meanwhile, corporate socialism aka Warren Buffet and his fossil fuel support of Obama marches on. On yeah, it was all Dick Cheney’s and George Bush’s fault! Obama and his henchmen would never violate the law! Oh no!

    I am sick to my stomach.

  10. EL says:

    Please – can anyone explain to me how an aging Senator from a geographically large state (number 7 on the list of states by geographic area) with such a low population density (number 42 out of 50) that it only has 6 out of 535 votes in the Electoral College has accumulated so much power than he can make the entire country dance on the strings that he manipulates? Why have Reid’s colleagues elected him to the position of power that he apparently holds? Why can’t any of them tell him to go pack sand?

    Senate is not a representative body, and size of State has nothing to do with it. Last several leaders of Senate (minority or majority) have been from relatively small states: South Dakota, Maine, West Virginia, Montana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, etc. I’m not sure why you think national significance of a State has anything to do with it? It does not (by all available evidence).

    Leadership of the Senate is also a customary role and is largely a matter of consent and convention (and delegation of authority from the Vice President who is President of the Senate). The first majority leader was elected by the democratic caucus in 1920. They are party representatives, elected by the caucus, to be spokespeople and to better manage the business of the Senate and organize votes.

    Any number of considerations are given as to why one person is elected to the job as opposed to others. They are typically good at strategy and deal making, understanding and organizing votes (through mix of lobbying, knowledge of rules, mentorship, bargaining, and political influence), they represent will of party and individual members (and are an effective spokespeople and representatives), they defend and protect minority interests when attacked (holding caucus together), have a track record of legislative accomplishments and other relevant experience, etc.

    Reid formerly chaired Senate Ethics Committee, and was Senate Democratic Whip for 6 years before getting elected as majority leader. Typical experience for a leader, along with many legislative accomplishments and achievements. It seems worth noting that Daschle was an incumbent and favorite for the leadership, and was groomed to remain in the role and usher in executive legislative agenda (specifically health care reform). But he lost his seat in 2005, by 4,508 votes, and was unable to keep the position. Reid is not a strong favorite among the caucus, it is my understanding, but he had the greater experience and seniority to Dick Durbin (who is likely to succeed him in the role).

    It’s my understanding all of the current members of the NRC (serving 5 year terms) were nominated by Obama, and confirmed by Senate (with Reid as Senate Majority Leader). Opposing Yucca does not seem to be a “requirement of nomination or Senate confirmation.

    Yucca has been mired in politics from the start. Many consider a consent based approach a better alternative, and one that has a better chance of success. That Congress has failed to act on the issue and reform a law that is decades overdue (and who many consider obsolete and unworkable) doesn’t mean the law has been breached. It may mean that Congress is slow to act, and needs some extra pressure and incentives (coming from the executive or the judiciary) to get the ball rolling. Not sure if anybody has noticed, but Congress hasn’t been terribly effective of late (regardless of dealing with contentious local and national issues like energy policy, infrastructure investments, climate policy, pollution standards, nuclear waste repositories, etc.). Blame Reid if you wish, but these issues, like all issues, are larger than just one person.

    • Ed Leaver says:

      Thanks, EL — that was right thoughty of you. But such lengthy and nuance discourse of necessity runs the risk of some wag cherry-picking a particularly subtle subtlety out of context and… well, farbeit for me to stoop to such depth, but your observation “That Congress has failed to act on the issue and reform a law that is decades overdue (and who many consider obsolete and unworkable) doesn’t mean the law has been breached. It may mean that Congress is slow to act, and needs some extra pressure and incentives coming from the executive or the judiciary…” fairly (or not) invites the rejoinder

      “Oh. You mean like the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit flat declaring the law has been breached and the Administration has no further authority to collect their $/MWh spent fuel fee until the situation is remedied?”

      Can you spell “sanctioned”?

      [/irony]

      And it is humor-intended irony because I happen to respect you a lot. Thanks again. But its also dead serious because NRC has no authority to grant new nuclear operating licenses without a Waste Confidence Rule, which they have difficulty formulating amid lack of confidence that waste spent nuclear fuel can be safely sequestered.

      California has a similar law on its books: no new nukes without safe long-term spent fuel management. I think it was Rod who once opined that whether or not Yucca Mountain itself ever becomes home to some of our spent fuel is secondary to a formal scientific determination that Yucca Mountain is safe to become one.

      • EL says:

        @Ed Leaver

        Yes, there was a 2-1 DC Court decision on whether the five member Commission and it’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (by a unanimous vote) were correct on suspending the process until it was certain that more funds from Congress were forthcoming to continue the review.

        The comments of the dissenting judge are worth highlighting:

        http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/BAE0CF34F762EBD985257BC6004DEB18/$file/11-1271-1451347.pdf

        The court is ordering the NRC to do a “useless thing.” They have been ordered to spend the remaining 11 million. “In short, given the limited funds that remain available, issuing a writ of mandamus amounts to little more than ordering the Commission to spend part of those funds unpacking its boxes, and the remainder packing them up again … The NRC has not refused to proceed with the Yucca Mountain application. Rather, by unanimous votes of both the Commission and its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, it has suspended the application proceeding until there are sufficient funds to make meaningful progress … the only responsible use for the remaining money would be to spend it on putting the materials back into storage — in order to preserve them for the day (if it ever arrives) that Congress provides additional funds.”

        It’s my understanding there is a timeline for resolving issues having to do with waste confidence.

        http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Policy-Briefs/NRC-s-Determination-of-Waste-Confidence-Used-in

        If not Yucca (then it needs to be something else). And with a halt to the collection of nuclear waste fees, this has some of the hallmarks of a stalemate (rather than a solution). I don’t see where the judiciary is going to save the day here.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @EL

          By my count, a 2-1 decision is still a decision and the dissenting statement has no force of law. It’s funny how some people like democracy except when they are on the losing side.

        • Ed Leaver says:

          @EL
          Personally, I’d amend your remarks to read “Congress and the Administration provides more funds.” This is a key part of Rep. Shimkus’ inquiry. In general, it is for the Administration to propose a budget, and the Congress to then mangle that budget beyond all recognition but smelling a lot like pork. In this case, were some carpet-bagging congresscritters (e.g. Shimkus, Stevens) to attempt to fund a project the President did not request, in a furren state that does not want the project, how far would such attempt fly?

          Whether the court-ordered halt to spent-fuel tax collection devolves to a stalemate remains to be seen. Some $35 billion has been collected over the years, of which about $6 billion has been lavished squandered invested wisely on Yucca Mountain. There is more than plenty available funds to finish the final studies, complete the last paperwork, declare victory, throw a party, and go home. Funds earmarked for that specific purpose. But the Administration’s got to ask for them. They gotta wanna.

          • EL says:

            @Rod Adams.

            Indeed … the force of law compels the NRC to do a “useless thing.” I’m unsure why you consider reading the full opinion of the court (each judge assessing findings and weighting evidence for themselves) means someone doesn’t like democracy?

            Nevada (attorney general) says it is unlikely to appeal, and is waiting to see what NRC will do with the remaining funds. Regardless, I seems rather likely this isn’t the last we have heard from them.

            @Ed Leaver

            Shimkus hits the relevant points, but only wants to hear the first part of the answer (whether new Yucca funds will be allocated or not). The other part of the court’s instructions relate to Congress, and the option of enacting “an alternative waste management plan.”

            I continue to see WIPP as the best available approach to the issue (and one with the best chance of success for resolving contentious issues related to siting of these facilities). And current incidents at Carlsbad seem to be further indication of this. I am pretty certain the response to incidents at WIPP would have been very different had the State and local stakeholders not consented to the facility, and DOE was on it’s own managing the incident (and working closely with local residents and organized opponents).

            With more facilities needed, I’m not sure what benefit is gained by continuing with a deeply flawed prescriptive process that is not going to be a workable national model for the future. Yucca looks like a dinosaur to me, a remnant of big government centralized command and control and politically infused power, patronage, and bureaucratic rule making. Maybe this is the only way to build and site facilities. I would hope to think there is a much better approach. Perhaps not (looking at how difficult it is to deal with these issues in the first place).

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            Indeed … the force of law compels the NRC to do a “useless thing.”

            No. That is only true in the minority opinion of one out of three judges on the court. The majority opinion does not judge the required action to be “useless.” In other words, the democratically arrived rule is for the NRC to proceed without wasting any more money.

            Sure, $11 million is only enough to unpack boxes and repack them if that is what the agency wants to do. It is also enough to pay about 55 full time equivalents for an entire year. Based on the information I have about the review, there was not all that much work left to do.

          • Ed Leaver says:

            @EL: I too see the WIPP consent-based process as the better approach. But there is also huge benefit to “completing the paperwork” on Yucca Mountain repository regardless of whether it is ever put to use. See Jim Hopf: Significant court victories on nuclear waste. Several additional points:
            1. WIPP is at present DoD waste only. Which is okay as much defense waste will probably never be candidate for partitioning and transmutation. Doesn’t mean WIPP might not ever be expanded for civilian power use, or a neighbor built, but that’s not where we’re currently at.
            2. Even with P&T and Gen IV recycle, nuclear waste is for a long time: about 500 years with P&T recycle, and maybe 170,000 without. On site dry-cask storage is good for a long time, perhaps a century, perhaps more. But millenia is pushing it and in any case that is not the type of long-term storage the power utilities or their customers consented to when they bought into nuclear power thirty or more years ago. Doesn’t mean they won’t accept something else — many of us hope for temporary (century or less) storage while Gen IV ramps up. But that will require some kind of National Energy Plan.
            3. It appears Yucca Mountain is being abandoned for short-sited political reasons. If that is indeed the case, then I would prefer to see the site mothballed in a ready-to-use state against the off-chance our children or grand-children wake up to the reality of global warming. No harm in leaving them a choice.
            4. If the Administration and Senator Reid are actually serious about consent-based siting, and complying with the court’s suggestion r.e. “an alternative waste management plan”, then what is S1240 doing still languishing in committee? Its been there since last June 27.

            Its a rhetorical point, as apart from the importance of completing (or not) Yucca Mountain, we’re pretty much in agreement.

            @Rod: The above-linked ANS article cites an NRC estimate that $8.3 million should suffice to complete the YM Safety Evaluation Report. That still leaves DoE on the hook to request funds for its required Environmental Impact Statement. (Version N, where by now N is a large integer significantly greater than 1.)

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Ed Leaver

            That still leaves DoE on the hook to request funds for its required Environmental Impact Statement. (Version N, where by now N is a large integer significantly greater than 1.)

            I think I heard Moniz tell Shimkus that DOE has plenty of money to perform their assigned tasks and that is the reason they did not request additional funds. I’ll have to listen again.

          • Ed Leaver says:

            @Rod Adams
            Thanks, here it is:
            Rep. Shimkus: “Does the Administration have any plans to resume work on Yucca Mountain, and to comply with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act as it is currently written?”
            Sec. Moniz: “Yes.” (1.26)
            Moving along:
            Sec.Moniz: “Secondly, we have more than adequate funding right now to do all the responses that might be called for by the NRC to support their process. As I said, we expect our first report to be submitted very soon, probably the end of this month (April 2014). And third, our budget request is for all activities that are authorized under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.” (3:35 – 4:58, emphasis in original).

            Rep. Shimkus then inquired whether DoE intended to complete the Groundwater Supplement to the Environmental Impact Statement requested by NRC last November, suggesting that DoE did not in fact intend to do so. But (apparently) did not wish have time to hear Sec. Moniz’ reply (4:48).

          • EL says:

            @Ed Leaver

            The “NRC process” is described here:

            http://www.scribd.com/doc/185187041/NRC-order-yuccamt-111813

            They do not have available funds beyond the current appropriation, and are resuming activities “consistent with the court’s direction.”

            We take an incremental approach, since the agency cannot engage in all of the licensing activities that we would undertake if fully funded–for example, we cannot at this time complete a formal hearing requiring disposition of nearly 300 contentions. Therefore, we looked to the schedule set forth in 10 CFR Part 2, Subpart J and Appendix D and identified activities tar represent the next logical steps in the process … Our decision to defer other activities–in particular, resumption of the adjudication and re-constitution of the LSN–is guided by the fact that the NRC will be unable, at this time, to make meaningful or substantial progress on these fronts.

            The statement from Moniz appears to be consistent with these points (funds available to support the NRC process). As described, there is $11 million in “unobligated carry over funding appropriated from the Nuclear Waste Fund” and DOE has $15.4 million in funds that “could be used to support participation in the licensing proceeding”, as well as $29.5 million in existing contracts (of which $18.1 is already obligated). The request by Nye County that offices and facilities associated with putting assets in place was deemed unlawful to “spend general agency appropriations on these activities” (p. 21).

            If allowed to answer, I would have expected the Secretary to have responded in the same way as the NRC regarding EIS: yes, consistent with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, it “may be accomplished with available funds” (but only after preliminary steps and requirements are met). A 12 month time frame is given once preliminary steps are met, and “after the start of work on the supplement” (p. 15).

            Participants agree there is not sufficient funds to resume adjudication and Phase I discovery on 300 contentions at this point in time, and resuming this process “would result in re-suspension of the case in the near term without completion of meaningful–or substantial–adjudicatory activities” (17).

          • Ed Leaver says:

            @EL: Thanks for the NRC link, I’ll look at it. One might note that the linked document is a November 3013 NRC directive for how to proceed given the funds on hand. Sec. Moniz testimony was r.e. the DOE 2015 budget request, and the pointed questioning about whether or not DOE actually had sufficient funds to complete this task. The secretary testified it does, though his remarks were obviously cut short at several occasions so there may have been qualifications.

            I see Rod has linked the complete committee hearing — thanks, Rod — as well as a pdf of the Secretary’s opening remarks. Nuclear energy section commences on page 8, Science (which more nuclear references) on page 14. Waste management and consent-based siting is mentioned, but not Yucca Mountain specifically.

            The linked hearing video runs 2 hours 50 minutes — more than sufficient to allow a coat of modern latex paint to dry.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @EL

      Senate is not a representative body, and size of State has nothing to do with it. Last several leaders of Senate (minority or majority) have been from relatively small states: South Dakota, Maine, West Virginia, Montana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kansas, etc. I’m not sure why you think national significance of a State has anything to do with it? It does not (by all available evidence).

      I’m aware of the role of the Senate and the fact that each state, regardless of size, has two Senators. I’m also aware that the founding fathers had no intention of any individual senator wielding such an inordinate amount of power.

      The size of the state matters in that it gives some indication of other source of teaming and power for an individual Senator. By working with other representatives of his state, he should be able to have slightly more influence on legislation.

      There was never any expectation among the people who created our system of government that a single senator would be able to sway the actions of so many other senators by using money and control over committee assignments.

    • John T Tucker says:

      EL i am glad you are back. You write beautifully. And honestly your posts are a pleasure to read. I wish I was as adept at my command of the language.

      But you know, honestly as well as I do the PR theatrics in the background of the Reid administration. You also know about the other things going on the guys here haven’t hit upon and I think also you are beginning to see the reality of the situation. No rush, but I know you will present a more true assessment.

      Now that I think about it, Im not saying you were so much as wrong, but your initial assessment needs updating.

      You know you left out a lot.

      Correct??

      • EL says:

        @John T. Tucker

        He appears to be representing his constituents, and doing what George Will has recommended (citing James Madison) is the calling and prerogative of every representative, agency, and branch of government: “Each institution shall be the jealous asserter of its prerogatives and try to maximize its power” (here).

        That Reid is good at his job (and we can argue significantly on that point) is not a shortcoming in our system of government. Rather then find fault with his success and cast aspersions on the guy (ad hominem really only bolsters his special status and influence), his success should be a lesson and provide greater incentive to his opponents to get busy and make a better (and more forceful) case. So far, they’ve only managed a court case or two, oust a Committee Chair on trumped up character defects (to little effect), and a couple of loud speeches in sparsely attended sub-committee meetings.

        How would you recommend we update this account … nobody here seems willing to say? I honestly think we are making significant progress on long-standing waste storage issues (and the sooner we give up on Yucca the better). Proposed projects (even very expensive ones) are cancelled and revised all the time. Yucca is likely to become one of them (and something better, more flexible, and that better meets the needs of a broader range of relevant stakeholders could very well to be created in it’s place).

        • Rod Adams says:

          @EL

          Rather then find fault with his success and cast aspersions on the guy (ad hominem really only bolsters his special status and influence), his success should be a lesson and provide greater incentive to his opponents to get busy and make a better (and more forceful) case.

          Just curious. Have you read Mark Leibovich’s “This Town?” If so, what do you think of its portrayal of the Senate Majority leader?

          • EL says:

            Just curious. Have you read Mark Leibovich’s “This Town?” If so, what do you think of its portrayal of the Senate Majority leader?

            I haven’t read it … but a good read (no doubt).

            Looked over this summary of quotes about Reid:

            http://www.ralstonreports.com/blog/reid-not-really-townee#.U0BrUihrZ38

            Loner, plain spoken, not good at fundraising (has little patience for it), is not particularly likable, humiliates others … but is efficient, ruthless, loyal, and stealthy. Leibovich seems to think he is atypical for the town, a bit on the introspective side, and not concerned with appearances or getting credit (but survival). He’s someone who you want on your side fighting in the trenches. Pragmatist and focused on the job. He has fondness for outcasts and is frequently underestimated (which he seems to use to his advantage).

            Is there anything else you think is worth referencing or highlighting?

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            Yeah….how he sold out on getting “Phase II” released in a timely manner, despite the insincere crap he pulled on the Senate floor that resulted in him being called “Give “Em Hell Harry”. Phase II ended up being a whitewash, and ‘ol Harry exposed himself as just another posturing disappointment, allowing the criminals in the Bush Administration to duck accountability.

  11. Pete51 says:

    How many curies are currently buried at the Nevada Test Site, a few miles from Yucca Mountain? Those curies are not neatly locked up inside steel and concrete storage casks.

    One tonne of spent fuel initially has around 5 million GBq?
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/uploadedImages/org/info/Nuclear_Fuel_Cycle/Nuclear_Wastes/highlevelwaste.gif

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I find it impossible to single out any individual politician or party for criticism. In my mind, the state of politics now makes it impossible for anyone if integrity to acheive high office. This is particularly true as this so called “Supreme Court” continues to turn high office into little more than an auctioned position of power.

    As far as “Give Em Hell Harry” goes, he’s a sell out, like all of them are. Its all about money now, and has nothing to do with “representation”, other than “representing” the highest bidder.

    This party thing, left versus right, liberal vs conservative, is a sham. The media and DC use it to keep you and I bickering amongst ourselves, while our “representatives” make back room deals that have NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR NATION’S BEST INTERESTS.

    What amazes me about the whole thing is that we, as citizens, keep buying into this bullshit. When discussing politics, it never fails that the most rapidly partisan person, left or right, displays the greatest ignorance about facts on the ground. Fed talking points by these despicable pimps in our media, such as Maddow, Limbaugh, Cooper, Hannity, etc, these partisan zealots repeat the script by rote. The result is that we engage in wars that are launched on false pretenses and actually harmful to our security, we reject useful technologies, medicines, and science that rocks the global economic status quo, we “elect” smooth and glib marrionettes that are carefully coached on telling us what we want to hear and not what thier backers are actually intending to do, and we stand idly by as our actual infrastructure, our world standing, and our quality of life gets flushed down the crapper.

    • Wayne SW says:

      So, POA, you obviously feel very strongly about these issues, and you express yourself passionately and convincingly, but at this point, I am curious as to what you think we can do, or what it would take to turn things around? And I am talking here about more fundamental, systemic things that go beyond simply pursuing criminal charges against those in current or past political administrations and/or Congresses. Lord knows we could do that for the next several decades and, successful or not, be no better off than we are now. How can we get the kind of people we need to right the ship? If we can get them at all, what role do we as citizens have to play to make it work? I may be wrong, but I have a suspicion that the Founders of this Republic had a vision that the people would establish a Government and that it would be more of a partnership between them built on trust and respect. Nowadays many seem to view the role of government as one of either a provider or an adversary. Neither is healthy or productive.

      I have to admit that I am a bit beaten down by the whole thing. These last four or five years have taken their toll (not that the previous ones were much better). I am going on the middle of my seventh decade on this Earth and have been involved in politics for a long time, but I am about done with it. To the extent that it makes me a cop-out or quitter, I don’t know, maybe I am, but discouraged is more the word I would use. I have seen this country turn its back on or throw away too much treasure in the form of wealth, knowledge, and human life. I just don’t know how to make it any different. There seems to be too much entrenchment and inertia for ordinary people to make a difference anymore.

      • PissedOffAmerican says:

        “Lord knows we could do that for the next several decades and, successful or not, be no better off than we are now”

        I disagree. Were indictments pursued, convictions attained, then the spectre of accountability would be over the heads of these criminals in DC. With a few of these monsters sitting behind bars, where they belong, subsequent administrations would be a bit more cognizant of the law. As it is, these scumbags are aware they can run roughshod over the law without paying a price. The scale of the actual CRIMES, both domestic and international, that the Bush Administration engaged in, is epic. What manner, what scale, of corruption and deception is enabled by an utter lack of accountability for KNOWN crimes committed by the occupiers of the highest offices?

        The total lack of accountability has set a dangerous precedent, particularly when high office is available to the highest bidder. The people no longer give them thier positions by common concensus, the concensus, therefore the office, is now auctioned off. They buy it, with sums that suprecede the utility of personal integrity. Those such as the Koch brothers, or Soros, do not give them billions of dollars without expecting a return on thier investment. They now owe allegience to thier investors, and not to the law, or to the people.

        Already, with the soon to be made public CIA report on the use of torture, we see these DC whores standing behind thier podiums mouthing Obama’s abetting strategy of “looking forwards not backwards”. So, we have two sets of laws, the unwritten one that our politicians adhere to, where the prosecution of the law is only predicated on partisan utility for one side or the other, and the set of laws that you and I must adhere to, that closely adhere to the actual letter of the law.

        You are wrong. Accountability DOES make a difference. And the scale of that accountability should match the scale of the crime. I am mincing words when I say that those involved in the invasion of Iraq should languish in prison. In truth, what punishment should be meted out for launching a deception to justify a war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, trillions spent, our credibility destroyed, a region destabilized, people horribly tortured by our own agents? Is mere imprisonment enough? If “justice” is the goal, I hardly think so.

        If we allow these scumbags to escape accountability for such epic crimes, whats next? What will they do next? Will my words turn me into an “enemy combatant”? Will that be the rationale for silencing my dissent? A drone paying me a visit late at night, silencing my dissent, simply by virtue of a label they have attached to me? Why not, if they will not be held accountable? Whats stopping them?

        We better wake up. Soon.

        • Wayne SW says:

          Well, thank you for that opinion. Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed. The lock ‘em all up strategy may serve to satisfy some sense of retribution, but that satisfaction is fleeting at best. Accountability in and of itself may satisfy our inner need to exact revenge against those we think are wrongdoers (and in that limited sense may have some value), or, in the political realm, those who we are at odds with politically, but in terms of making a practical difference, I’m not sure it will. Every generation of criminals that has followed another never really thought about consequences. All they thought was the other guy was dumb enough to get caught, and I’m smarter than him. And no, I’m not talking about the “looking forward, not back” platitude. We need to look back and learn practical, useful lessons and do what we can do right wrongs as we look forward. But, at a more fundamental level, we need to think and act differently.

          Take the present situation as a limited subset. Even if you convicted every wrongdoer who now holds political office (and emptied most of Washington, as well as many State Houses and City Halls in the process), what would they be replaced by? How many honest and forthright people do you think would step into the breach? My opinion is that you will learn the wisdom of the words of my generation: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

          And the reason good people would not step forward is the reason people like me can’t or won’t. Because we’d be personally destroyed by those who would oppose us. Our families would be sought out and humiliated, our careers and businesses ruined, those who support us would be ostracized and marginalized, all because we hold beliefs and opinions that others who hold more power and wield more influence oppose. Until that changes, I don’t think we’ll see much difference, accountability or not. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so.

          I am awake, and see what is happening to my loved ones, family and friends, neighbors and coworkers. The war against nuclear energy is but a small component of the larger malady that afflicts us. Because like the tree rotting from within that displays an outward appearance of strength, when the first storm blasts hit, the ground is strewn with the branches of the fallen tree. Listen with the ears of history. Already the storm blast whistles through the branches. It is just that at this point I don’t know what to do other than shelter myself and my loved ones from the storm. Maybe I can help pick up the branches later and plant new tress, but the old one may be too weak to save.

          • Eino says:

            @ Wayne SW

            “I am awake, and see what is happening to my loved ones, family and friends, neighbors and coworkers. The war against nuclear energy is but a small component of the larger malady that afflicts us. Because like the tree rotting from within that displays an outward appearance of strength, when the first storm blasts hit, the ground is strewn with the branches of the fallen tree. Listen with the ears of history”

            That was good!

            What’s more, I think you are right. The United States isn’t what is used to be. I think a lot of us just don’t realize it yet. Other powers are rising in this world while we wane. Gosh, you’ve almost inspired me to break into that old Gibbon book on the Roman Empire to draw parallels.

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            Well…..undoubtedly accountability does not necessarily change our course. But are we to simply discard this tool???

            You’re right. There is a far deeper malaise affecting us that mere punishment cannot cure.

            But I’m not ready to deny the utility of holding our fellows accountable for thier actions. In such a denial, I am giving away the only barrier that stands between civilized society, and chaos, anarchy.

            I don’t know what to do either. And I too think the primary answer lies in tending my own garden, and treating you as I wish to be treated. But if you steal my carrots, I don’t think I should stand idly by and allow you to eat them.

            Interesting times we live in. There are occassions when I find myself thinking I just might just get to witness, in my lifetime, what our destination has been all along. I guess thats just the pessimistic side of me. But looking towards Washington DC, its hard to see a blue sky, so maybe pessimism is simply the only sane way to see things.

          • Wayne SW says:

            POA, my inner Candide also wishes that I could simply tend my garden and not worry about anything else. And perhaps I am being a bit of a Dr. Pangloss by running on like this. But at the same time it is lamentable that so many good people have sacrificed to build what we have today, and now it seems we are in the process of throwing all of that away, and to what purpose? If it were for a greater good then perhaps I would not find it so lamentable. Alas, I can find no good in what is happening. For while we tend our gardens, the barbarians are at the gates, and in some cases have pushed through.

            And, as a final note, I agree that accountability is useful, even if it does not lead to the complete answer. If for nothing but a sense of justice, we should hold wrongdoing to account.

            Meanwhile, I will listen to and think about what you (and others) have to say. I don’t have the answer and will admit to such, but perhaps if we finally gain a collective sense of justice, mutual as well as self-reliance, and harmony, things will change.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Wayne SW

            I tend to agree with POA on this one. I worked in Washington from 2001-2010. Many of the up and coming politicians and staffers are pretty decent people, but many of them tend to be strongly influenced by actions that they see around them. When they see others not only getting away with certain types of actions, but also see them rewarded for those actions, they begin to lose some of their moral compass.

            Deterrence in the form of accountability that includes disgrace and jail time for those convicted is just one of several tools that will begin to turn the tide. However it is an important tool that should not be dismissed with platitudes like “look forward and not back.”

            Of course, I have been steeped in accountability systems my entire professional life. Naval officers are expected to be people with high integrity and are treated with great respect. If they betray that trust, the hammer is usually quite swift; CO’s often get fired on the same day as a transgression is discovered. (Unfortunately, once one reaches the political appointee level in the military, some of that accountability gets blurry.)

          • Wayne SW says:

            I have stipulated that accountability has some value. I just have a belief that its utility in solving the more fundamental problem is more limited than you two believe. But I agree it often results in some measure of justice and the satisfaction that such provides, fleeting though that may be. The lock ‘em all up approach addresses more of the symptom than the cause.

            The whole situation reminds me of the time I was involved in brain tumor treatment. We did a craniotomy to resect the primary tumor mass, but the underlying illness required a more systemic approach to effect a cure. Likewise, today, the malady that afflicts our body politic as well as our society and culture as a whole will require a more systemic approach than simply locking up a bunch of evildoers. I’m not saying that shouldn’t be done, but in terms of treating the underlying illness, which at this point has a rather grave prognosis, I’m not sure its sufficient.

            Anyway, time to go plant some carrots.

          • Wayne SW says:

            I should be clear, I was doing the treatment, not being treated for cancer. Still have a few years left in me (hopefully). Back to cultivating the garden.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @POA

          May I have your permission to publish your comment of 2014/04/06 at 2:12 PM as part of a front page post sometime this week?

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            With some trepidation, I give you my permission. I would ask that you edit my mispellings, and use my permission to replace the word “whores” with “co-conspirators”, and the word “scumbags” with the word “criminals”.

            These are powerful people, Rod. And the public airing of opinions such as my own, tends to give such opinions inertia. They can’t abide that, the truth is a threat to them.

            This lack of accountability of which we speak is so pervasive now, that “we” even propose it as policy. I see Power just proclaimed that the Palestinian’s intention to seek membership in a number of UN bodies poses a “threat to Israel”. Well, what possible “threat” could it pose, if not the threat of holding Israel accountable?

            It saddens me to note “we” now consider accountability a threat to our allies, and, by extension, to us.

            There are nations where some of our past “leaders” dare not set foot, because they will be arrested for war crimes. Deservedly. What are we becoming?

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’m a little curious, seeing as how this site is devoted to nuclear energy issues, if anyone reading this is aware of what happened to the yellow cake at Tuwaitha in Iraq, just after our invasion.

    • PissedOffAmerican says:

      No bites, eh? Well, I’m curious if storing water in barrels that once held yellow cake, then drinking that water, bathing in that water, and doing your laundry in that water, might just be a bit harmful to your health?

      • Rod Adams says:

        @POA

        That all depends on how much natural uranium oxide remained in the barrels. If there is a hazard, it is more from the chemical toxicity of the material than from its radiation. Both naturally occurring isotopes of that element are so long lived that they have a very low radiation dose. In oxide form (yellowcake) they generally pass through the digestive system rather than be absorbed to any great extent.

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Then whats the big deal about yellow cake? Why did the criminal Bush Administration come up with that whole BS story about Saddam’s agents trying to buy yellow cake in Niger?

    And the Tuwaitha thing…what thats all about is these geniuses that ramrodded the Iraq invasion failed to protect the UN sites where the confinscated materials where catologued, secured, and stored by the UN for later disposal. The Tuwaitha facility was broken into by the locals, because we had destroyed the infrasture that provided them with water and power. They dumped the yellow cake out, not knowing the international symbols for radiation and toxicicity, and used the barrels as I described. There were twelve such sites scattered about Iraq, the majority unprotected by our forces. So the very stuff that these lying thieving scumbags claimed we were going to war over was actually looted from the sites that the UN had under lock and key, pre-invasion. The media was covering this briefly, then POOF! the coverage disappeared, with much of the original coverage dissappearing. I followed it pretty closely until it was impossible to find coverage.

    I don’t think there has ever been a crime as complete and as damaging committed against this nation as the invasion of Iraq, with its false rationales and concocted justifications. And now, after all the deaths, the obscene expenditure, and our loss of credibility with the international community, Iraq is about to implode (despite the fiction known as the “success of the surge”, where we simply spent billions paying the insurgency to behave. When we stopped paying….you know the rest).

    And BOTH parties signed on to this epic deception. And to this day, BOTH parties refuse to investigate and indict the criminals responsible for this betrayal of the American people. Whats worse, the perjurers, torjurers, thieves and murderers that launched this crime are STILL to this day blathering forth with thier nonsense, and being taken seriously. At the very best, they should be considered liars and traitors, and, in fact, if this nation was what it purports itself to be, they should by now be rotting in cells.

    It amazes me seeing issues such as you raise here being discussed as if we should have any expectation of competent or ethical leadership from these scumbags. Are we so ignorant that we do not think that our so-called “leaders”, on both sides of the aisle, are unaware of the epic crimes committed in our nation’s name with our military adventures? They know full well what has occurred, and they are too collectively corrupt, and complicit, to place the truth in front of we the people.

    Reid is just a symptom. No better, no worse, then the rest of the corrupt posturing elitist criminals in DC.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA

      I probably would choose different slightly different adjectives, but I understand where you are coming from. I spent the last 9 years of my Navy career working in Washington and watching the saga unfold. My time working in the capital (but living way outside the Beltway) started in June 2001 and lasted until I began my retirement leave in June 2010. I was in a lot of meetings where I was so astonished by what some people said that I had to blurt out.

  15. mjd says:

    Actually I would choose different adjectives than POA also. His are too soft. Mine would be more typical of a Lower Level Engine Room Watch who had just dropped the Delaval Lube Oil Purifier Bowl Spindle on his foot. The current administration lost my support a month in office. When they announced there would be no criminal investigations for what were considered simply “policy” differences from the previous administrations.

    • PissedOffAmerican says:

      “The current administration lost my support a month in office. When they announced there would be no criminal investigations for what were considered simply “policy” differences from the previous administrations”

      Exactly. It took very little time to be shown that Obama was a fraud, a carefully crafted puppet. This thread, on a scale of one to ten, is about a .00001 in regards to importance of topic when considering the scale of corruption and criminality our politicians are engaged in.

      Blowback is real. And we are earning it in spades.

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And by the way, mjd, it goes back further, as far as realizing the “left” wasn’t going to pursue accountability. The “report and investigation” that Roberts headed up, and Reid’s subsequent stunt of pulling Rule 21 to force the release of the report really demonstrated the complicity each side of the aisle had in burying these crimes. Great press was devoted to Reid’s stunt, when in actuality it was insincere posturing. He forced a timeline out of Roberts according to the media. But, when that deadline wasn’t met, the media gave it nary a mention. Yet this insipid and sorry excuse for a man, Reid, was still given credit for “playing hardball”. When he launched his “Give ‘Em Hell Harry” website, I was eventually banned form commenting when I noted that the deadline was not met. Then, finally, when Phase 2 of the report was finally released, it was a work of fiction, little more than a shameless whitewash that only a fool could swallow. I have strong suspicions that Reid and Roberts must have worked out some backroom deal. And meanwhile, every one of these posturing frauds in DC knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “report” was a disgraceful sham, yet they collectively applauded its release. The writing was on the wall; there would be no accountability for the epic crimes, (domestic and international), and human rights abuses, that the Bush Administration, (in league with the Democrats), engaged in.

  17. mike williams says:

    “One up manship” has generally replaced “statesmanship” in our government. The absence of scientific education is palpable in DC. So long as the only qualifications for the House and Senate are age and residency, we can expect a continuation of the baffoonery that is dominated our government.

  18. Wayne SW says:

    Mike, not only is there a huge dose of ignorance in DC these days, but the place is utterly overrun with cronyism. I mean, I know cronyism has always been there, but it has really gotten out of hand. Look at the situation in the Senate. Others have noted the problem with Harry Reid. He has done nothing to merit the position he holds other than to have powerful friends, and seniority. How does that make one a better legislator? Probably the same could be said of McConnell on the other side. There is no meritocracy to politics anymore (if there ever was any in the first place). George W. Bush was the son of a former President and he “wasn’t Clinton”. Big deal. Obama was elected because many thought he was “clean” and “good-looking” and “the first black President”. What kind of qualifications are those? They wouldn’t get you a junior executive position in any reasonably-run business. We are now seeing the seeds sown for “the first female President”, with utter disregard for achievements or the ability and disposition to serve in such a high position. Its all just fluff and appearances and who you know and how much money you can raise.