The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is wasting time, House Republicans said Tuesday, as it stalls a court-mandated review process on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a nuclear-waste storage site. Republicans, countered some Democrats, are the real time-wasters as they force administration officials to testify on a still-nascent process and ask questions that don’t yet have answers.
The back-and-forth at a contentious hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy showed that even with Syria dominating the news, Yucca hasn’t lost its place among Capitol Hill’s most polarizing topics. The Obama administration put the Yucca Mountain project on ice in 2011 but a federal Appeals Court ruled in August that it must complete the licensing process with a full review and either a denial or approval.
NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane testified that her agency would need time and more funding to complete the review process, noting the necessity of public hearings, budget analysis, and reassembling staff that had moved on after the review was suspended in 2011.
That wasn’t good enough for the Republicans on the subcommittee, who insisted that NRC’s five-volume safety-evaluation report be finished and released as soon as possible. Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill., asked Macfarlane if she could envision a scenario in which the report was not released to the public. “I can’t say one way or another,” Macfarlane responded. Shimkus shot back, his voice rising. “Are you gonna comply with the law based on your previous statements?” Macfarlane assured him she would.
Subcommittee ranking member Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., asked Macfarlane and the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, Paul Lyons, if they would have been better prepared to testify had Republicans waited a few weeks later into the process to hold the hearing. Both said the extra time would have aided their testimony. “Be mindful of the position we have placed the witnesses in by insisting that they testify today instead of in a few weeks,” Tonko scolded Republicans. Shimkus responded that the witnesses have had 30 days since the court ruling to prepare. “They can always come back [for further testimony], and I’m sure they’d be happy to do so,” he said.
Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., was so convinced the topic was a waste of time that he spent no time on it at all. He used his question period to ask about radiation leaking from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant and the danger it poses to West Coast residents. Macfarlane said the Pacific Ocean would dilute the radiation, making it a minimal threat to the Pacific Coast. Waxman and Tonko have called for hearings on Fukushima.
While Shimkus insisted that NRC has adequate funds to complete its safety-evaluation report, Waxman claimed that the $11 million NRC has allotted for that purpose was “not nearly enough to complete the review.” Macfarlane agreed, saying her agency “does not have in reserve sufficient resources to complete all of the necessary steps in this licensing process.”
In the end, there was only one thing all sides could agree on. “We have a fine mess on our hands,” said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.
- 1 The Story of 2016: Republicans Feeling “Betrayed” by Their Leaders
- 2 Why Trump Isn’t Moving the Map
- 3 Corrine Brown, Under Indictment, Becomes Fifth House Incumbent to Fall
- 4 The 1 Easy Way Donald Trump Could Have Been Even Richer: Doing Nothing
- 5 Will Trouble in Philly Follow Wasserman Schultz Home?
What We're Following See More »
In a release Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama has commuted and/or reduced the sentences of another 111 convicted criminals, mostly convicted of drug possession or trafficking. About 35 were serving life sentences.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.
We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.
Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.
The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."