By Michael Mariotte


Sen. Reid vows this passage to Yucca Mountain will never be used. Will Steve Burns and Jeff Baran ensure this door will remain closed?

President Obama’s two appointees to the NRC were confirmed by the full Senate yesterday on near-party line votes.

Jeff Baran, a former top energy aide to California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, was confirmed by a 56-44 vote; former NRC General Counsel Steve Burns was confirmed by a 60-40 vote.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee, and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) were the only Republicans to vote for both nominees.

The Republicans generally seemed to oppose the nominees because they were supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Although President Obama made the nominations, there is a widespread belief that the nominations were made only with the strong support of Reid and that Reid is stacking the Commission with people who will oppose the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump.

This could be critical if Democrats lose the Senate in the upcoming election and Reid thus loses his power to control the agenda of the Senate floor–where Reid currently ensures no pro-Yucca legislation will be considered.

This was pretty much acknowledged by Republicans last week when Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told the Hill newspaper, “that Reid was the main hurdle for Republicans to get the project moving again.

“We knew Mr. Reid being majority leader, it wasn’t going to see the light of day,” Upton told reporters.

If the Senate flips, Upton said, then Yucca is a “priority” for Republicans.”

For his part, Reid said the Republicans should give up on Yucca: “Yucca Mountain is all through,” Reid told reporters on Tuesday. “As long as I’m around there’s no Yucca Mountain. It’s been through two presidents.”

“Clinton opposed it. Obama opposed it. The place is mothballed out there. It’s all through,” he added.

Michael Mariotte

September 17, 2014


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