One of the more bizarre political alignments under Donald Trump’s Presidency, is the apparent support from the ‘Left’ for Trump’s revival of the United States’ geological disposal programme.
‘Progressives’ in America are concerned by the number of interim surface storage sites across the country, the amount of waste they store, and the perceived heightened threat that extreme weather, geological and climate change events pose to the safety of those sites. This analysis is drawn from US media output and political comment on our international media review page.
Perhaps the most high-profile example of this Progressive ‘push’ for a geological disposal solution was the lengthy analysis of the issue during the summer by John Oliver on his popular HBO programme ‘Last Week Tonight’. If you don’t get diverted by his tangential comic asides, Oliver makes a forceful case for geological disposal [Heads up: item is 18 minutes long]:
Oliver debunks populist and misleading representations of radioactive waste, and sets out the ethical and environmental case for geological disposal. But to be clear, he does not support the specific Yucca Mountain proposal, which is being revived by the Trump Administration. That is true of many on the Left. Ernest Moniz, who was Obama’s Energy Secretary, recently opined that the still-required detailed geological analysis of the Yucca Mountain site may mean that it is not feasible or sensible to build a repository there. He supports a consent-based approach to finding a site, rather than imposing a potentially flawed solution. However, there seems to be little dispute in the US that geological disposal is ethically, environmentally and economically the right way forward.
Funding to revive the Yucca Mountain programme is a key element of current Congressional budget discussions. One of Washington DC’s leading political news-sites, Roll Call, named the geological disposal programme as one of the top energy and environmental priorities for the Federal Government. There are attempts within Congress to provide compensation to local communities hosting interim storage facilities as a way of creating financial pressure on the Federal Government to find a suitable site for a GDF. This is clearly a story that is going to continue to run in the US. We will keep you updated.