Nevadans have a reason to know Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland’s name beyond the highly charged U.S. Senate debate over whether his nomination should get a hearing, much less a confirmation vote.

WASHINGTON – Nevadans have a reason to know Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland’s name beyond the highly charged U.S. Senate debate over whether his nomination should get a hearing, much less a confirmation vote.

As chief judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Garland in 2013 was on the losing side of a 2-1 ruling that ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume licensing for the once-proposed high-level nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain.

Garland used his dissent to say the ruling by the majority likely would be “a useless thing,” citing the limited amount of money available to the commission.

“No one disputes that $11 million is wholly insufficient to complete the processing of the application,” Garland wrote, noting an earlier commission budget contained $99 million to move forward for one year.

“In short, given the limited funds that remain available, issuing a writ of mandamus amounts to little more than ordering the commission to spend part of those funds unpacking its boxes, and the remainder packing them up again.”

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada recalled those words Thursday when asked about Garland’s role in the 2013 ruling.

“He issued a brilliant dissent,” said Reid, who has played a huge role in killing the Yucca Mountain project and believes it will remain dead. “He disagreed with the two judges who were wrong.”

Judges Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of President George W. Bush, and A. Raymond Randolph, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, ruled the commission was wrong when it halted license hearings for the proposed nuclear waste repository and joined in issuing a writ of mandamus ordering the agency to follow the current law.

Garland, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, said he viewed their order as a “drastic and extraordinary remedy reserved for really extraordinary cases,” adding that the commission’s actions did not amount to such a case.

As he did in 2013, Reid dismissed the court ruling’s importance, believing the project cannot be revived. Others in Congress believe differently.

“It was just a courageous thing for him to do,” he said of Garland’s dissent.

Reid made his comments after meeting with Garland in his Senate office, a years-old tradition for Supreme Court nominees during the confirmation process.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other Republican leaders have said they will not meet with Garland as part of their strategy to block his nomination until after the elections. They want the next president to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

When asked why Garland would agree to have his name put forward by President Barack Obama in the politically polarized atmosphere in the Senate, Reid, who also is an attorney, told reporters being nominated to serve on the nation’s highest court would be the culmination of any lawyer’s career.

“If I were in his shoes, I’d be willing to take all the brickbats and pieces of fruit thrown at him,” Reid said. “I just think it was a great honor for him to be selected.”

Now that the GOP has taken the pipeline fight as far as it can, where to next? Nevada.

Next week, Republicans will finally be ready to send their Keystone XL bill to President Obama, who has promised to veto it on procedural grounds without a second thought. That won’t end the partisan bickering over the pipeline, which has been raging for the past six years and counting, but it will largely freeze the fight in place. The GOP lacks the votes it needs for an override, and the State Department is refusing to say when it will make a final recommendation on the project, which is what the president says he’s waiting on. Republicans, then, will have done all they can—and Obama all he has to.


Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

But with the Keystone fight losing steam, another high-profile energy battle is bubbling back up: the decades-old debate over Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the proposed site of a massive federal repository for America’s nuclear waste. The project, which dates back to the Reagan administration, has long been a top priority for the nuclear industry and its Republican allies, but it was more or less left for dead after the 2008 election. Obama promised on the campaign trail that he would block the project and, with the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the president effectively did just that shortly after he took office.

Now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress, however, Yucca appears destined to return to the national stage. Industry officials have said that GOP leaders assured them privately that jump-starting Yucca is one of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s top priorities for this year. And, Rep. John Shimkus, the Illinois Republican who chairs that panel’s Environment and Economy Subcommittee, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month that he is working on just such a bill that he hopes the House will then vote on this summer. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, both of whom lead key energy-themed committees in the upper chamber, have also suggested nuclear waste is on their agendas.

Republicans and Democrats are sure to clash on a whole host of energy issues in a post-Keystone world, but a singular project like Yucca seems poised to draw the type of attention that made Keystone a polarizing staple of stump speeches, fundraising pitches, and attack ads during the past two elections.

The two projects are, of course, vastly different. One is a 1,700-mile pipeline that would move tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the other amounts to a high-tech underground garbage dump that would house 77,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel, as well as the detritus that remains from the nation’s bomb-building binge during the Cold War. Politically speaking, though, the two projects share more than enough in common for the fight over Yucca to pretty seamlessly pick up where the fight over Keystone left off. Both are individual projects that have become de facto litmus tests in the larger fight over the nation’s energy future. Support and opposition both fall largely—but not completely—along party lines. And, most important of all given the existing tensions in the nation’s capital, both have been wrapped in bureaucratic red tape by a White House that would prefer to block each project on procedural grounds than on their merits alone.

Yucca Mountain.

The long-stalled Yucca project began to inch forward again in 2013 when a federal appeals court forced the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the process of evaluating whether the site could safely serve as the nation’s nuclear dump, and rebuked the panel for “flouting the law” for abandoning its review in 2010. (Then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko—a former Reid aide whom Obama appointed to lead the panel—cited a lack of federal funding as the reason the panel pulled the plug on the evaluation. In reality, while Jaczko’s old Senate boss had managed to cut future funding for Yucca, the commission still had $11 million left to spend.)

The panel has now finished that long-delayed review, releasing the final two volumes of the five-part safety evaluation late last month. The NRC report—not unlike the State Department’s preliminary evaluation of Keystone—has proved to be a Rorschach test inside the Beltway, with both sides seeing only what they want. Supporters tout the fact that the panel concluded the design would be capable of safely isolating the high-level radioactive waste for 1 million years as required. (And here I’ll pause briefly to channel my former colleague Timothy Noah when I shout in disbelief: One million years is a long time!) Critics, meanwhile, point to another important finding, one that has more to do with the practicality of building Yucca than with its theoretical performance: that the project can’t proceed without the government acquiring crucial land and water rights, something that appears all but impossible given Nevada’s steadfast opposition to the project.

The gridlock, meanwhile, is proving costly. Right now, our nuclear waste is spread out among 70-odd commercial nuclear power plants around the country. Burying the waste deep underground—whether in the Nevada desert or somewhere else—is currently considered the nation’s best bet for permanent (or, more accurately,permanent-as-possible) disposal. The Energy Department has been collecting tens of billions of dollars in fees from reactor owners since the 1980s with the promise of taking the spent reactor fuel off their hands. But without Yucca or an alternative in place—or even in the works—courts have assessed billions of dollars in damages against the government for failing to live up to its end of the deal. According to theNew York Times, the Energy Department’s potential liability is now upward of $20 billion.

The Yucca stalemate also serves as a proxy for the larger debate over what role nuclear power will play in America’s energy future. The GOP—which it should be noted isn’t ready to admit man is a cause of climate change—has called nuclear power “the most reliable zero-carbon-emissions source of energy that we have.” The climate crowd has a more complicated relationship with nuclear. James Hansen and several other leading climate scientists see it as essential in the fight against global warming, while others in the field point to the long-term unknowns and the shorter-term carbon costs involved in the mining and transportation of uranium, and the construction and operation of reactors. Heavyweight environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, meanwhile, are steadfast in their opposition, arguing that nuclear is too expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming to be worth the effort.

For his part, Obama has paid lip service to nuclear power but has done little to spur the nuclear renaissance the industry was dreaming of a decade ago. In his latest budget, the president proposes creating an interim storage site for the nuclear waste at a cost of $5.7 billion over the next decade. In the past, Yucca proponents have fought similar plans, fearing that short-term consolidation would weaken the case for long-term action.

The NRC’s final safety evaluation, meanwhile, begins to clear the way for the panel to begin holding licensing hearings, which officials have suggested could take three years or more once they finally kick off. Given that, don’t be surprised if the Yucca fight that starts in Congress later this year sticks around through the next election and beyond—just like Keystone before it.

Crucial time in fight against Yucca, Las Vegas officials are told

yucca mountain

The U.S. Energy Department plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, an extinct volcano about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

By (contact) Conor Shine

Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 | 11 p.m.


With court appeals, a bill in the U.S. Senate and the possible resumption of licensing hearings all in play, the next three months will prove critical in determining the future of Yucca Mountain as a repository for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, executive director of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects Bob Halstead told the Las Vegas City Council Wednesday.

Halstead normally provides his annual update on Yucca Mountain to the council in December, but after last month’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ordering the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the proceedings to license for the site, the briefing was moved up.

Bob Alvaraz: US has 71,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel that is not properly protected

With two decades to go before it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the US will have to bury nearly 70,000 tons of it, a research lab reports. It comes after Congress and the Obama administration defunded a planned nuclear waste repository in 2011.

Halstead laid out four elements affecting Yucca Mountain that could see significant movement in the coming months.

The first major deadline is Sept. 27, a date by which the state must decide whether to file a petition asking the federal court that issued the licensing order to revisit the issue with its full slate of eight judges.

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Fallout Shelters: Secret Underground Bunkers and Tunnels under the USA


There’s a conspiracy about a secret underground bunkers in DIA or Denver International Airport being built by the US government as a fallout shelter in 2012.

Could Yucca Mountain in Nevada be another massive Deep Underground Military Bunker or a place to house Government officials and other important people  instead on a nuclear storage site as it sits idle?

It is a shame the US spends more on it’s military then it does on education. These two movies were filmed recently in Hawthorn NV. showing the many underground bunkers used by the army and even the NAVY???? The Navy? Why would they have a navel under water research facility way out in the desert? Here is the interesting fact, the lake near Hawthorn walker lake is dead of any life at all. Never seen a boat out on it the 9 or so times I have been past it. I went snorkeling in it and nothing was alive.

map of us tunnelsThis investigative documentary is part of “Conspiracy Theory” series hosted by Mr. Jesse Ventura and was aired on truTV.

A few believe the Earth is at risk of massive disaster in year 2012 and Jeese examines rumors that the United states Government is executing a doomsday plan of survival shelters to save the powerful, wealthy and elite people while leaving everyone else to care for themselves allegedly.

Ventura also investigate the enormous metropolitan airport wherein bizarre Illuminati artwork exhibited publicly which appears to represent a “road map” of blueprints for the upcoming doomsday.

A secret fallout shelters building in places which ranges from the White House towards the Nevada desert, together with a massive project under construction beneath Denver International Airport.

Truck Driver Confirms Underground City Beneath US. 2013

Interview with a truck driver who is entering an underground city and roadway system that stretches for thousands of miles beneath the U.S. The driver says he dropped off goods from ozarks base to the state of Maine, about 1400-1500 miles.

Project Subterrene and Top Secret Undergound Tunnels Under America

D.U.M.B.s Deep Underground Military Bases

Area 51

STRANGE SOUNDS heard worldwide

Get a glimpse inside these secret bunkers and judge for yourself in case the government is truly getting ready for an underground living shelters while the everybody else are left to toast on doomsday. Continue reading