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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

a couple from the ny times

so, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the ny times is firmly in the hands of kerry supporters. editorials such as this one only solidify that perception. i did not at any time see anything in the nytimes condemning or calling for condemnation of that piece of excriment F-9/11, or any of the deplorable ads funded by the grand-daddy of all 527 organizations, george souros' moveon.org. this bunch sure can hand the shit out, but can't take it.

and then i found this times editorial decrying the fact that congress and the courts have botched the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository program. i quote the entire article for those gentle readers without passwords to get into the times:

August 23, 2004
Roadblock at Yucca Mountain

federal appeals court decision has thrown a gigantic roadblock in the way of efforts to create an underground burial site for nuclear wastes at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. A three-judge panel in the District of Columbia ruled last month that regulators could not simply require the repository to contain the wastes for 10,000 years, the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency, but must instead ensure that Yucca could function acceptably for hundreds of thousands of years. That standard is so outlandishly stringent it may not be achievable. Unless Congress steps in to change the ground rules, the court ruling could significantly delay or even derail efforts to move ahead with an underground repository that will be vitally needed in coming decades.

There seems little doubt that the safest way to dispose of used fuel rods from nuclear power plants and highly radioactive wastes from nuclear weapons production is to bury them deep underground in stable geological formations resistant to leaking. Experts in this country and abroad, as well as many environmentalists, agree on that point. Although Yucca Mountain was partly chosen because of a perception that Nevada lacked the political clout to reject it, the site has a lot to recommend it. It sits on federal land where nuclear bombs were tested, in an arid desert where population density is low, well above the water table and atop volcanic rocks that have been there for 12 million to 13 million years. But technical obstacles, litigation, political opposition in Nevada and the sheer difficulty of the undertaking have slowed progress for 17 years and threaten to prolong the agony indefinitely.

The Bush administration, to its credit, has tried to push Yucca toward a resolution. The Energy Department plans to submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission late this year for a license to build the repository, which would open in 2010 at the very earliest. The commission must then determine whether the proposed repository can meet health and safety standards established by the E.P.A. Unfortunately, those standards have now been thrown out by the courts.

This turn of events can largely be blamed on Congress, which in a 1992 law told the E.P.A. to set standards for Yucca Mountain "based upon and consistent with" the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, an unusual delegation of authority to a nongovernmental agency. An academy panel concluded that there was no rationale for protecting the public for only 10,000 years given that the peak risk of radiation might be hundreds of thousands of years in the future.

The appeals court ruling that the E.P.A. improperly ignored the academy could make it virtually impossible to approve a burial site at Yucca or perhaps anywhere else in the country. To get out of this mess, Congress needs to change the law and allow the E.P.A. to set the compliance period at 10,000 years, roughly twice as long as recorded human history. That is the period used by the E.P.A. for a separate military nuclear repository and the time frame used by other countries with geological disposal programs. Congress will no doubt be reluctant to tackle the issue in an election year, especially since Senator John Kerry and other Democratic leaders, pandering shamelessly for the electoral votes of the battleground state of Nevada, have pledged to block Yucca.

damn, this paper surprises me every once in a while. not often, but occasionally.


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