Yucca’s Threat to Economic Development in New Mexico


Source: Holtec International

Election Day brought good news to fans of the Yucca Mountain project. The long-planned but never-built facility was slated to house spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s atomic plants. But for decades, fierce opposition in Nevada — led by Sen. Harry Reid — blocked Yucca’s opening, and in 2010, the Obama administration torpedoed the repository for good.

Or did it? Reid has retired, the reliably pro-Yucca GOP retained control of both chambers of Congress, and restarting the project is “actively being discussed by advisers” to the president-elect’s transition team.

If Yucca is revived, that’s not good news for an intriguing proposal in southeast New Mexico. As regular readers of Errors of Enchantment know, Holtec International is pursuing a “state-of-the-art interim storage facility” not far from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Commercial repositories, spread throughout the country, represent a much better approach than the federal government’s billion-dollar, one-size-fails-all approach. The nationalized, technocratic, Cold War-era strategy has been a disaster for ratepayers, taxpayers, and the nuclear industry. Permanent storage of nuclear “waste” by for-profit entities is the way to go. (Here’s a deeper look at how that might be done.)

Holtec’s proposed facility, depicted above, could make an important contribution to settling the spent-fuel quandary once and for all — and give New Mexico’s dismal economy a boost along the way. For the sake of free-market energy policy as well as opportunity and prosperity in the Land of Enchantment, let’s hope that Yucca stays dead.