Jay Ambrose: For the sake of helping Harry Reid stay in office, President Barack Obama is prepared to renege on his promise to keep faith with science, would happily cost utility customers tons of money and -- last in this list, but hardly least -- scrap the possibility of this country having a robust energy future.
For the sake of helping Harry Reid stay in office, President Barack Obama is prepared to renege on his promise to keep faith with science, would happily cost utility customers tons of money and -- last in this list, but hardly least -- scrap the possibility of this country having a robust energy future.
That's an awful lot to give up for the sake of assisting the election of the Senate's fumbling majority leader, and guess who doesn't like it? Members of the party in the majority, that's who. A number of Democrats are furious about the president shutting down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, and they're worried big time on two other energy issues as well, the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out.
But first, Yucca. The site there has been called the most studied piece of real estate in human history, and if you want to deny it, find another spot that literally hundreds of scientists have spent almost three decades testing everything there is to be tested at a cost of $10 billion. The point was to find out if you can place nuclear waste there without serious danger for a long, long time and the answer is you can because of proof not quite on the order of the Earth being a round globe, but similarly convincing.
If all that sounds familiar, it's because I am among a great many to have pointed it out, and if Obama hasn't heard it, he's been hiding in a closet with plugs in his ears. Why, his own energy secretary, Steven Chu, has been a Yucca proponent and, I would guess, has mentioned all the evidence and other considerations to his boss.
So this president who garnered major attention by saying he would always put science first on science-involved policy questions must either henceforth be known as "Flat-Earth Barack" or is being politically duplicitous. It has been suggested that the latter is the case and that Obama is yanking money from the project not only because of a win-in-Nevada campaign promise he actually should have junked. He is doing it, Republicans insist, because Nevadans are NIMBY-plagued (the acronym stands for Not In My Backyard) and ready to vote against Reid if Obama betrays them.
Of course, they seem ready to vote against Reid this November, anyway -- as who wouldn't? -- and meanwhile there are NIMBY problems elsewhere.
You see, if there is not a national repository, the existing nuclear waste will stay in some 60 sites scattered about the country, meaning ratepayers have bigger bills (unless their states successfully sue the federal government to pick up the waste-management cost) and that people will worry about the safety of locations that have received the tiniest fraction of the study Yucca has had. What's more, a number of states are saying they will allow no new nuclear plants if there is no national repository, and that could mean the best laid plans of Obama and Chu will go astray.
Both men understand that vastly expanded nuclear energy is crucial for the United States to have a prosperous, thriving economy comparable to what it has known in the past, especially if most fossil fuels are gradually phased out. They worked out a wise, multi-billion dollar program to aid in the construction of new plants, but then here came Obama putting politics above the national good.
Some Democrats are also understandably ticked off that the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to destroy the economy of their states with non-availing rules on greenhouse gas emissions, and some don't like a wind-energy, stimulus bill project that is providing more jobs for Chinese building the necessary wind turbines than for Americans who will run the subsidized projects.
You see, Mr. President, your own party will turn against you when the hurt of ninny-minded policies in their own states is obvious and when you are weakened by an obsession on health care and seeming incompetence in addressing a suffering economy.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.