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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Reid’


Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

January 19, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled his top ten legislative priorities for Nevada for the newly convened 112th Congress at a news conference today at the aptly named – for this occasion — Bombard Electric, a solar company based in Las Vegas.
While touting “creating good-paying clean energy jobs in Nevada,” Reid unveiled a list that included “eliminating funding for Yucca Mountain” as his 5th ranked priority. 
According to a news release distributed by Reid’s Washington office, “Senator Reid will continue leveraging his position as Majority Leader to ensure the ill-conceived Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump proposal is dead forever, blocking any further attempts to revive the defunct project.”
“My primary focus is to strengthen Nevada’s competitiveness by creating good paying clean energy jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, preparing our workforce to compete in the global economy and investing in Nevada’s small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Reid. 
“The last time I checked nuclear energy was both clean energy and a significant generator of jobs,” quipped a pro-Yucca Mountain advocate who asked not to be identified.

For more, read here.


Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

November 16, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, November 16, the 140th day of captivity for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now 140 days and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczcko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:   
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.


Thursday, November 4th, 2010

As the smoke clears from the election, one of the energy arena winners may be nuclear energy.

Although the nuclear issue was barely discussed during the mid-term elections (except in Nevada, where Sharron Angle lost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), early statements from both sides of the aisle signal hope that efforts to advance U.S. nuclear energy may be a big part of a compromise bipartisan agenda – even a subject that Democrats and Republicans can heartily agree upon.

In his post-election press conference, President Obama specifically mentioned nuclear as an area of possible compromise:  “There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” he said.  “Is that an area where we can move forward?”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying a promising area of compromise could be “nuclear power and clean coal technology and other things the president said that he’s for and most of my members are for [as well]."

One big exception to this unanimity may be Reid, who may be hesitant to embrace a U.S. nuclear renewal that could potentially re-jumpstart Yucca Mountain.  But there are other options on the table. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that on-site dry cask storage may be acceptable for the better part of a century. And AREVA is about to begin construction in South Carolina on a facility that will fabricate MOX fuel out of plutonium and depleted uranium from military stockpiles. This may be a backdoor opportunity to re-introduce recycling to the backend recipe.

Only a few weeks after the Nuclear Renaissance seemed to be stalling –- particularly with Constellation Energy’s withdrawal from Calvert Cliffs 3-– things suddenly look a lot brighter. There is tremendous pent-up demand for nuclear energy among Republicans – remembering that rousing ovation the President received when he mentioned it in his State of the Union Address.

So the prospects for progress suddenly seem more bullish. Faced with the need to compromise, both Democrats and Republicans may even arrive at the resolution that has been staring them in the face all along – that clean energy solutions that enhance U.S. Jobs and competitiveness are important — and that nuclear energy is a the most viable baseload resource to be central to any solution.


Read more at Platt’s


Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Any thought that Yucca Mountain might be released from death row anytime soon probably faded last night when Senate Majority leader Harry Reid defied the polls and won re-election last night.  He is likely to remain as the Senate leader with Democrats holding Republican gains to a half dozen or so seats.

Reid has been the nuclear waste repository’s biggest opponent and has succeeded in getting the Obama administration to cancel the project.  His opponent, Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle, had proposed reviving Yucca Mountain as a nation reprocessing center.  At one point during her television debate with Reid, she charged the Senator with "demonizing" nuclear power”, while adding that she agreed with him on opposing Yucca Mountain.

The Senate Majority Leader’s biggest unheralded coup on this front has been championing the appointment of his former staff member Gregory Jaczko as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the body that licenses all nuclear facilities. Jaczko has made it a priority to ensure that the Department of Energy’s application to begin work on Yucca be closed down as fast as possible.  Although the Department of Energy’s withdrawal of the application is still being challenged in the courts and the commission has not acted on an agency panel’s finding rejecting the license withdrawal request, Jaczko instructed his staff to close out the application with the new fiscal year that began October 1. The shutdown could mean that the NRC’s many years of labor in evaluating the Yucca application may never see the light of day.  The decision has drawn open criticism from the Congress, current commissioners and former NRC Chairman Dale Klein as well as NRC staff personnel.

Nevertheless, Reid’s re-election probably means a continued contentious debate and rocky road ahead for Yucca Mountain.  The Democrats still control the Senate, the Department of Energy and the NRC chairmanship.  Republican control of the House of Representatives, however, will add new dimensions to oversight and appropriations for the project.

 “We continue to believe that reports of Yucca Mountain’s death are premature,” said one industry source.  ‘It is likely that the courts will have the final say in the matter, which may be the perferred outcome of all versus continued political stalemate.”


Monday, November 1st, 2010

In an insightful article, Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, has noted that Harry Reid’s defeat for re-election could revive Yucca Mountain – which could in turn be a huge psychological victor for the Nuclear Renaissance.
To date, Angle’s campaign has concentrated on Nevada’s 13 percent unemployment rate – highest in the nation – and the general need to reduce government spending and revive the economy.  But Angle grasped the third rail in her debate with Reid in accusing him of “demonizing nuclear power.”
By signaling that she knows something more about nuclear energy than that it is the devil’s work, Angle opens the possibility that nuclear could become a subject of rational debate.  She has already suggested that Yucca Mountain be reconceived as a nuclear reprocessing center, which would offer huge technological possibilities and job opportunities to the Nevada economy.
Politico reporter Robin Bravender takes this argument one step further, however, and points out that Yucca Mountain has become a roadblock to nuclear and that removing it would suddenly energize those legislators who have been urging its revival.  “Nuclear power has become a central tenet of congressional Republicans’ energy agenda,” writes Bravender.  “Senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander say expanding the power source will help to cut dependence on foreign oil and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”
Even at this level, however, the reporter does not entirely understand the issue.  “Reid and the White House aren’t the only impediments to Yucca surging ahead,” the reporter writes.  “Other lawmakers are wary of the project and it will likely be tough to justify spending the billions needed on the project during an economic downturn.”
But of course, Yucca Mountain hasn’t cost the federal government a dime.  The whole thing has been paid for by the industry.  In fact there is still more than $10 billion in the Waste Repository Fund that will have to be given back to the industry if Yucca Mountain is cancelled.

Read more at Politico



Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Transcript of Harry Reid-Sharron Angle exchange on nuclear energy, Yucca Mountain and energy policy generally from their only debate on October 14, 2010.

Last week the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission directed agency scientists to stop working at Yucca Mountain. This was of course cheered by Yucca Mountain opponents. But this is what Mrs. Angle has said about you, and I’m quoting from the program Face to Face, quote: “Harry Reid has demonized the nuclear industry. There’s a pot of money out there, we have some potential for some job creation and some diversification.”
Question: did we miss a golden opportunity to create jobs and receive benefits from the federal government during a time when we really needed it?
Mitch we tried for 28 years to get something from the federal government, they gave us nothing. Yucca Mountain is not good for the country and it is really bad for Nevada. The most poisonous substance known to man a few miles outside Las Vegas? No.
People said we couldn’t kill it? It’s dead. Yucca Mountain will no longer on the list. We need to use it for something else. But my opponent suggests using it for a nuclear reactor. I – there isn’t enough water in the whole state of Nevada to build a nuclear reactor. The only nuclear generation that uses more elec – more water, I’m sorry – than uh, coal, is nuclear. There’s just not enough water here to do anything about it.
I’m not against nuclear power. I just was totally opposed to trying to bring all the garbage from it to the state of Nevada.
Okay, Mrs. Angle?
Well I’ve always voted against making Nevada the nuclear waste dump of the nation. But the science now has outpaced the need for a dump here in Nevada. We don’t’ want a dump here in Nevada, but we need to quit demonizing the nuclear energy industry. What we have are breeder reactors and submarines that use liquid metal to cool. It isn’t always water that’s required for nuclear energy, and we should look into the potentials for nuclear energy. Certainly we shouldn’t be dependent upon foreign oil, we should be developing all of our resources, and we should also allow coal-fired plants to be built in Ehly, Nevada, which Harry Reid killed, because he said coal makes us sick.
We have to stop with this extreme environmental outlook, catch up to the technologies of the day, and use those things to create jobs here in Nevada.
Thank you. Senator Reid?
I heard my opponent talk about these coal-fired plants. Of course, we have got something much better than the coal plants now. We have a power line that’s worked out between the owners of those power plants from the north to the south. All using renewable energy, except on in Mesquite, which is going to use now, not only natural gas which is our product, an American product, forty percent less polluting than diesel fuel. And it’s going to also be solar.
So we’ve made great progress and I admire and appreciate what NV Energy has done, backing off those coal plants, which even they recognized, hasn’t worked. ** We have created lots of lots of jobs in renewable energy, to match whatever losses from the coal-fired plants.


Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The South Carolina Attorney General’s office has written the U.S. Department of Justice and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission querying the NRC’s recent moves to close out the Department of Energy’s license application for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository.

"In responding, we request that you honor the spirit of our question, rather than splitting any technical hairs in how our question is framed," said the letter, signed by Andrew A. Fitz, senior counsel for the attorney general’s office. "In our opinion, this information is relevant to our mutual obligation to continue to inform the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals of the status of the administrative matter before the NRC."

South Carolina is a principal plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the Department of Energy’s decision to withdraw its application for Yucca. Originally filed by Aiken Country, S.C., home of the Savannah River site, the suit has since been joined by the State of South Carolina and Washington State, home of the Hanford Reservation. Both Savannah River and Hanford house spent fuel and other nuclear by-products that would eventually be stored at Yucca Mountain. The suit alleges that DOE’s decision reneges on the federal government’s obligation to provide a
permanent repository under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.

Fitz asked either the DOJ or the NRC to either confirm of deny reports that NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko has instructed the agency staff to start closing out the DOE application, as reported yesterday by Nuclear Townhall. Jaczko has initiated the action even though the full commission has not yet voted on the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s decision rejecting the shutting down of Yucca, which was issued on June 29.

The letter is addressed to both Ellen J. Durkee, of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department, and John F. Cordes, Solicitor for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "We are directing our inquiry to you, rather than the NRC directly, based in the fact that our question relates to a matter in litigation in which you represent the NRC, among other respondents," wrote Fitz.

Testimony in the D.C. lawsuit has been suspended pending a vote by the Commission on whether to accept or reject the ASLB’s finding.

Rumors are that Chairman Jaczko has been unable to assemble the votes for needed for a rebuttal. Jaczko has directed much of his attention toward closing down Yucca since being appointed chairman in 2009 under the championship of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, where the repository is located. Senator Reid is currently locked in a tight race for re-election against Republican challenger Sharon Angle, who holds a 4-point lead according to the latest poll.


Thursday, September 16th, 2010

If the recent spate of rollicksome, mercurial, “Hail Mary”, come-from-behind defeats of political favorites, notably Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Delaware’s  Mike Castle, by underdog, under-resourced challengers are political bell-weathers, longtime nuclear energy antagonist and Yucca Mountain terminator Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should be packing his bags and preparing his memoirs.

According to the respected Real Clear Politics (RCP), “by all accounts, Reid should be a dead politician walking.”  At the same time, the RCP observes that Reid ‘s opponent, State Representative Sharron Angle, is a “chronically gaffe-prone candidate who is running as a proud Christian in Sin City.”

Recent polls, however, suggest that Angle has recovered from a somewhat self-induced free fall in the face of a fierce mid-summer Reid advertising offensive that left her at her floor of 40 percent support in late July.  Three new polls fresh off the press this week show Angle pulling ahead by 1 point (CNN/Time and FoxNews) or even (Rasmussen Reports).  The RCP poll averaging barometer shows Reid holding a statistically negligible lead of 0.8.  In only 1 of 28 polls cataloged by RCP since December 2009 has Reid reached the magical 50 percent mark, which has traditionally been considered as a litmus test for the viability of political candidates, particularly incumbents.

“After Delaware and Alaska, there can’t be an incumbent in America on either side of the aisle who feels safe with even a healthy double digit lead heading into election night,” said one longtime nuclear energy industry observer.  By this standard, it’s impossible to see how he pulls his race out successfully at the end of the day – even if Angle continues to stumble along.  

“Reid’s recent decision to dredge up the Yucca Mountain boogy-monster in his attack ads shows the desperation of his re-election campaign strategy.  The real issue in the state is Nevada’s ranking as the unemployment capital of the U.S. at a chronically persistent 14 percent and there is no escaping this fact.” 

Reid recently went gaffe-prone himself with a widely reported assertion that – while one of the America’s most powerful politicians – he had “nothing to do” with the economic misfortunes currently faced by the state.

But as the RCP concludes, “if Harry Reid were a cat, he’d be on his 15th life… Complicating matters for Angle, the state allows voters to select ‘none of these candidates,’ which could split the anti-Reid vote. This could be a missed opportunity for Republicans.”  The RCP ranks the race a “toss-up.”


Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Congress is only back from recess two days and already it looks like plans to revive consideration of a national renewable energy portfolio law are not going to materialize.
Democratic Congressmen Tom and Mark Udall, the environmentally minded cousins who represent New Mexico and Colorado respectively, both volunteered yesterday that they saw little hope for a floor debate. “I just don’t hear it on the list,” said Tom. “The clock is running for the next three to four weeks and there’s no realistic chance of an energy proposal coming to the floor,” agreed Mark.
Earlier in the week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had made noises about reviving a bill. Reid is in the middle of a hotly contested re-election effort, however, and his comments may have been aimed at shoring up environmental supporters.
Bad as an RES would be – mandating investment in renewables while excluding nuclear – a revived effort promised to turn into a Christmas tree of earmarks designed to bring wavering legislators on board. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, the only Republican who has publicly endorsed a RES, wants an ethanol-boosting title added to the bill. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is driving the same bargain. Efforts to bring in Southeastern legislators probably would have focused on provisions for burning down forests as “biofuels.”
The worst scenario for some nuclear energy industry quarters was always that Congress would reject cap-and-trade – which would reward nuclear – and “compromise” on a renewable energy standard that would exclude nuclear and set the country off on the same path that led to the California Electrical Shortage of 2000.

Read more at Politico


Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Just when longstanding Congressional energy observers thought that the window had closed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is once again making noises about pushing a “renewable energy portfolio” through Congress before or after the November mid-term elections.
As the Kerry-Lieberman climate and energy proposal – which offered some robust nuclear energy provisions – collapsed this summer, the possibility emerged that Congress might give revert back to a “renewable mandate” that would dictate huge investment in solar and wind projects without giving any credit to nuclear for its carbon-free capacity.
Now that possibility is back in play. Last week Reid told The Hill that a renewable standard is “absolutely” in the mix for a revived energy effort this month. Since then the tom-toms have been beating loudly for a renewed renewable effort.
The loudest talking point is that without a renewable standard, China is going to beat the U.S. to the punch in wind and solar energy leadership. “China has passed the U.S. for the first time to become the most attractive destination for global clean energy investment,” laments a report in Grist. “This follows the failure in the US Senate’s proposed energy bill to include a Federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES) provision.”
This allegation conveniently  ignores the fact that — at the same time — China has just announced the construction of a “Nuclear City” in Haiyan to consolidate its own efforts to convert its economy – and the rest of Asia – to nuclear.
An attempt to push a stand-alone RES failed last August because Senators from the Southeast – short on both wind and sunshine – feared they were going to be pushed into stripping their forests in order to satisfy the renewable mandates. Reid may have a plan to entice them– or perhaps he just offering election year hope for his environmental constituents.
The real question is how an effort to lower carbon emissions ever ended up as a mandate to states and utilities to burn wood instead of coal on the grounds that it is “renewable,”  said a nuclear energy industry consultant.
“If we’re going to have a standard, how about a true clean energy portfolio fashioned around a carbon-free standard that would give credit to nuclear’s extraordinary ability to produce electricity without producing any exhausts or pollution,” he added.