House says yes to Yucca

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(May 17, 2002) On Wednesday 8 May the U.S. House of Representatives showed that it's still the best Congress money can buy, by voting for Yucca Mountain.

(568.5403) NIRS - By a vote of 306 in favor to 117 opposed (12 members did not vote), the House passed Joint Resolution 87. This overrides the State of Nevada's 8 April veto of President Bush's 15 February approval of the Dept. of Energy recommendation to move ahead and apply for a license to open a national repository for high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The Nuclear Energy Institute had at least 14 lobbyists standing at the foot of the stairs leading up to the House chambers, "working" the Representatives as they walked up to cast their vote. Pro-Yucca House leaders had boasted that they would garner 350 votes. Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (from the most nuclear state in the US, Illinois, with 14 reactors; Hastert's home area hosts the world headquarters of Exelon, the largest nuclear utility in the U.S.), rushed the vote to the floor, giving the House all of one month to consider a vote that will have consequences stretching out hundreds of thousands of years.

Thanks to everyone who helped generate calls, letters, faxes, emails - your hard work paid off, denying NEI the bigger victory they wanted. All in all, 117 votes against Yucca is respectable, and sets a good tone for the looming Senate vote on Yucca, expected sometime between mid June and mid July.

U.S. readers: please help generate calls, letters, faxes, and emails to your Senators, and get your friends and family to as well. Contacting your Senator's office once per week at this critical point is not too much. Setting up meetings with your Senators when they are home for the Memorial Day recess would also be very valuable at this critical time.

Invite to join the meeting local environmental, public interest, and other groups that oppose Yucca. Introducing local resolutions at your city or county council expressing opposition to nuclear waste shipments through or near your community would be very valuable right now too.

In fact, nuclear utilities across the U.S. are introducing pro-Yucca resolutions in several states. In Monroe, Michigan - home to Detroit Edison's Fermi Two nuclear reactor - the county council tried to secretly pass a pro-Yucca resolution, a violation of the Open Meetings Act. When caught in the act, the council voted 4 to 4, delaying action. But the utility then twisted arms at the county council, and a short time few days later, the council then voted to approve the pro-Yucca resolution.

In Holland, Michigan, the local council passed a pro-Yucca resolution without anyone in Don't Waste Michigan even knowing that it was being considered. A local Native American woman rushed over to the council chambers to voice opposition to the proposal to dump high-level nuclear waste on Western Shoshone Indian lands, but was not allowed to speak - the resolution she had just learned about had already been passed.

On a more hopeful note, the band Midnight Oil has taken on fighting Yucca with a passion. An anti-Yucca, anti-Mobile Chernobyl banner hangs behind the band during all shows. Lead singer Peter Garrett addresses Yucca from stage, directing the audience to the NIRS tables in the lobby, where they sign post cards and petitions to Senators.

Also, four new mock nuclear waste casks are currently under construction, with hopes of having a six-cask caravan kicking off 6 June at various points around the country. If you have any questions or ideas, or if you're interested to plug into the mock cask event nearest you, please contact Kevin Kamps at +1 202 328 0002.

Source and contact: Kevin Kamps at NIRS