We remain skeptical that the courts will step in to save Yucca Mountain — and, by extension, the Central Savannah River Area.
But one can hope.
Aiken County and others want the courts to overrule the Obama administration’s decision to end the Yucca Mountain, Nev., plan for nuclear waste disposal. A hearing is now set for March 22 before a Washington, D.C., appeals court.
As a matter of principle, it’s important that the courts give great deference to the other two branches of government to set — or reset — national policy. Most judges undoubtedly feel the same.
But the lawsuit by Aiken County, S.C., and others is bolstered by a decision of the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board last June that the Obama administration overstepped its legal authority in ending the Yucca Mountain project.
The board wrote that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 “does not give (the Secretary of Energy) the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress ...”
Therein lies our opportunity: if the courts rule that the Executive Branch — the Obama administration — is usurping the power of the Legislative Branch — the Congress — to set the nation’s nuclear policy.
Pray it works. Otherwise, the nearby Savannah River Site will likely become a permanent nuclear waste dump.
No one here signed up for that, particularly Congress. Nor has it been established — and we doubt it ever would — that SRS and the CSRA is a location suitable to permanent storage of radioactive waste. It hasn’t been scientifically sold or politically vetted.
If the separate powers doctrine enumerated by the Constitution is to mean anything again, perhaps this lawsuit is a good place to start.
— Online: chronicle.augusta.com