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By Yucca Johnny
Yesterday's decision by the NRC's Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) is obviously a much welcomed development in pro-Yucca constituencies. However, it will clearly put the NRC Commission on the hot seat.

The ASLB's 47-page decision meticulously dismantles any case for withdrawing the Yucca license.  The Commission, which will in all likelihood get the case — on appeal or via its own motion — will have to decide whether to uphold  and thereby preserve the NRC's credibility or go down the path of least resistance and let politics dictate its decision.

Any consideration of the ASLB decision will also raise questions about individual Commissioners and their objectivity.  One need only recall the recently appointed Commissioners' confirmation hearing this winter.  When asked point blank by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) whether they would "second guess" the DOE's decision to withdraw the Yucca license application, the three nominees responded individually in robotic, rehearsed lockstep that they would not.

While the freshmen Commissioners will no doubt be reminded of this pledge, they certainly didn't commit to not second guessing the ASLB.  The conflict crosshairs will also be on NRC Chairman Jaczko, who had to recuse himself on all matters related to Yucca Mountain during his first year as Commissioner.  All eyes will be on Jaczko — a former Reid staffer — as to whether he'll try to help out his old boss by pushing to reverse the unanimous ASLB decision, something which has reportedly never been done in NRC history.

Regardless of the full Commission ruling, its decision will be challenged and end up in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, which is presently scheduled to hear oral arguments in late September on a round of consolidated petitions against DOE's termination of the Yucca Mountain project.

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