More nails in Yucca coffin


The release of paperwork this morning on the federal budget deal that was negotiated late Friday confirmed a couple more of the nails that Sen Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he hammered into a Yucca Mountain coffin.

A copy of the final legislation released by the House Appropriations Committee showed that funding accounts for civilian nuclear waste disposal and defense nuclear waste disposal indeed were zeroed out.

The bill and accompanying documents seemed to lend some clarity finally to the funding picture surrounding the remains of the Nevada nuclear waste program. Questions had persisted over programs in the nooks and crannies of the trillion-dollar budget while congressional staffers fleshed out the deal on paper.

Back in 2009, Congress had appropriated $196.8 million to the Yucca project for the 2010 fiscal year.

But lawmakers never were able to finalize a fiscal 2011 spending bill, until now. In the meantime, federal departments were kept running through a series of short term "continuing resolutions" based generally on fiscal 2010 funding levels. And some Yucca Mountain supporters said those resolutions were evidence that funding was still alive, even if Obama was not spending it on a program he wanted killed.

Reid, for well more than two decades, had worked toward turning off the spigot of dollars for the nuclear waste repository he long opposed.

The release today of details in what would be the final fiscal 201 1 government spending bill does enable Reid to say finally, as he did on Monday, that, "in the budget we negotiated, there is no money going to Yucca Mountain."

Besides the dollars, Reid also killed a provision that would have prevented the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from moving forward with closing down its portion of the Yucca project.

The final budget also shows $10 million allocated to the NRC in nuclear waste funds -- the amount that NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko said would be spent to phase out the agency's work by the end of September.