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.

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One Reply to “Yucca’s Threat to Economic Development in New Mexico”

  1. Definitely opening Yucca Mountain poses a threat to a competing development in Carlsbad. However, if. Yucca Mountain, no matter how flawed, plays a role in a resurgent nuclear sector in the United States, that could be a tremendous boon to the state (albeit one that takes longer to develop).

    Increased uranium mining in the areas around Grants and Gallup COULD be an economic boon for two areas of New Mexico that have seriously struggled even relative to the State as a whole in recent decades.

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