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Obama administration not following the law with regard to Yucca Mountain

Rep. John Shimkus

The Obama administration has a history of selectively following the laws that it is charged with implementing and upholding.  The Affordable Care Act is just the most recent egregious example, as the administration has on numerous occasions exempted or changed parts of the law that the President himself signed.

Going back to when the President took office, he has blatantly disregarded the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. That law signed by President Ronald Reagan and a subsequent follow-up law signed by President George W. Bush, in addition to annual funding bills, have been working toward a long-term nuclear waste site.

Department of Energy preparation studies began on Yucca Mountain as far back as 1978.  The Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed Congress in 1987 with bipartisan support and designated Yucca Mountain as the only site to consider. Bush signed a law passed in 2002 — again with bipartisan support — taking the next scientific steps towards approving Yucca Mountain.

That all came to an abrupt halt with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) conspiring to violate the law. Fortunately, the Courts have stepped in and said that the final environmental reports that were ordered must be completed.

More than $15 billion in ratepayer fees have been spent on researching and studying Yucca Mountain. It is time that the President follows the law without a court order.

The fiscal year omnibus appropriations package allows for the funds available to be used to complete the study as ordered by the court.

As a strong supporter of Yucca Mountain, our nation needs one long-term storage site for spent nuclear waste, not individual storage sites at the 104 reactors running at 65 sites in 31 states.

So far, all of the studies and scientific work have indicated that Yucca Mountain is an ideal location for a high level nuclear waste repository. A repository in the dessert, under a mountain, on federal land. Yet the President and Reid are letting politics get in the way of science.

In the 2009 Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity, Obama is quoted, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration.”

Reid has stated, “Obamacare has been the law for four years. Why don’t they get a life and talk about something else? People deserve better.”

I agree, yet why doesn’t Reid allow Yucca Mountain to move forward? It is the law of the land.

Rep. John Shimkus is a Republican who represents Illinois’ 15th congressional district.


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