South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley is launching a new attack-- calling out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for wasting billions of dollars by preventing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository from going online.
Haley, whose state contains two nuclear waste processing sites, said $20 billion already has been spent on the facility 100 miles north of Las Vegas, including $1.2 billion from South Carolina.
"President Obama and Harry Reid are willing to shut down Yucca and make South Carolina a permanent dumping ground to save Harry Reid's Senate seat. That's wrong," Haley said in a statement issued Saturday night.
"We are not interested in investing in any more Nevada real estate when we get nothing in return. If the feds want to renege on the promise to keep Yucca open, they must refund the $1.2 billion our state has spent on the facility. We want our money back," she said.
Reid has made shutting down development of Yucca one of his priorities, and successfully lobbied the Obama administration to prevent licensing of the site, which Congress approved in 2002 as the nation's only deep earth, geologically safe disposal facility.
"Hell no, that won't happen," Reid told the Las Vegas Journal-Review on Saturday about continuing to develop the Yucca site. "Nevada is not the nation's dumping ground and it never will be as long as I have something to say about it."
President Obama has created the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, led by Congressman Lee Hamilton and General Brent Scowcroft, to look for alternative locations for disposal and recycling of nuclear fuel.
In March, the Department of Energy asked that its application for a license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the repository be pulled with prejudice. A subcommittee of the NRC refused the request, and in a decision expected soon the NRC could announce it will bar a withdraw of the application. That would enable it to move to deny the license, effectively sealing off the site, a decision that will likely lead to a lawsuit in federal court.
On Thursday, while touring the Savannah River nuclear waste disposal site in South Carolina, Haley said she wants to pursue a coalition of governors to pressure the administration to continue development of Yucca.
Unfortunately for Haley, if elected her term would not overlap with like-minded Republican Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell. Rell, who announced she is retiring this year, sent a letter to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu this month requesting that Yucca continue to be developed.
"DOE has spent decades and billions of dollars investigating the suitability of Yucca Mountain as a geologic repository, determined in 2002 that Yucca Mountain was a suitable location, and even now concedes that its Yucca Mountain application is neither flawed nor the site unsafe,” Rell wrote to Chu, according to Sunday's New Haven Register.
"To now reverse developing Yucca Mountain as a permanent storage site as a matter of policy is a disservice to Connecticut rate payers, who continue to be burdened by DOE's delay in proceeding with its license application."
Connecticut has two nuclear power plants storing spent fuel rods. Connecticut gubernatorial candidates -- Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy -- have not weighed in on the Yucca site. However, Haley's Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen has reportedly agreed with Haley about pursuing the Nevada waste facility.