Nuclear industry and Harry Reid both happy about DOE nominee

Back in 1999, the undersecretary of energy swatted away concerns about geologic disposal at Yucca Mountain.

''There is certainly science left to do and being done,'' Dr. Ernest Moniz told The New York Times in a piece headlined: "New questions plague nuclear waste storage plan."

But, Moniz added, ''One way or another we've got to advance toward geological disposal. We're pushing it hard. The science case is building up nicely. If we have to delay in the end we'll delay. But I see no reason not to push forward.''

No reason not to push forward. Hmmm.

But that was then. Moniz now is President Obama's nominee to succeed Steven Chu as the DOE's secretary in an administration seemingly dedicated to closing down the dump project 100 miles from Las Vegas.

Moniz participated in a Blue Ribbon Commission that culminated a year ago, advocating a new approach to nuclear fuel and beginning, "The Obama Administration’s decision to halt work on a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is but the latest indicator of a policy that has been troubled for decades and has now all but completely broken down."

So Moniz, a nuclear physicist, was a strong believer in disposing of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain during Bill Clinton's tenure but now apparently has bought into the Obama Administration's Harry Reid-guided position. Or has he?

The nuclear industry seemed almost excited about Moniz's nomination. The Nuclear Energy Institute put out a statement headlined, "Nuclear sector sees MIT's Moniz as sensible choice for energy secretary. "

How sensible? Maybe sensible enough to heed these words: "We also urge the Energy Department, as a matter of legal obligation, to prepare to resume the licensing of the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository and reassess the Nuclear Waste Fund fee based on court direction."

That is, let's fire up the Yucca Mountain site again once the court cases are resolved in our favor.

NEI also pointed out that Moniz has always been a supporter of nuclear energy, even after Fukishima, as it noted here. No wonder the industry can barely contain itself. When NEI says "sensible," I sense it means: "We can talk to this guy."

Nevertheless, reliable Obama backer Reid fairly gushed about Moniz: "As a respected nuclear physicist and Director of the MIT Energy Initiative, Dr. Moniz has been at the forefront of finding innovative ways to bolster and clean up our energy supplies at the same time. I am confident that he will continue building on the Administration’s progress in developing our nation’s enormous clean energy potential, reducing our reliance on foreign oil, and finding a safe, consent-based approach to managing our nation’s nuclear waste that does not involve dumping it in Nevada. I also look forward to discussing with Dr. Moniz the Department of Energy’s partnership with Nevada in growing the Silver State’s clean energy economy. "

And Sen. Dean Heller was positive, too: "As a member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, I look forward to meeting with Mr. Moniz and learning more about his vision for a sound energy policy. I’m particularly interested in his perspective on alternate solutions to dumping the nation’s nuclear waste in Nevada. Yucca Mountain is a threat to public safety; no amount of reassurance from the federal government will convince me or the residents of Nevada otherwise. Given Mr. Moniz's position on the Blue Ribbon Commission, I hope he agrees with me that Yucca Mountain should remain a closed issue.”

Yes, 1999 was an eternity ago. And so long as the Obama Administration remains committed to its Reid-only policy, Nevada has nothing to fear. Right?