By detonating the "nuclear option" last week via a change in Senate rules, the Democrats ended a tradition which goes back to George Washington. Effective immediately, the minority party will not be able to filibuster against presidential nominations for judicial and executive positions. Ironic that the "nuclear option" was directly linked to actual nuclear stuff.
In 1957 the National Academy of Sciences pointed out that the best way to deal with spent nuclear reactor fuel and other radioactive waste was to store it down a deep hole in an underground rock formation for long time.
In 1982 the Nuclear Waste Policy Act made DOE responsible for finding a location, building, and operating an underground disposal facility, called a repository. At that time, 150 million pounds of the stuff was stored at 121 sites.
In 1985 President Reagan approved three sites for intensive study: Hansford Washington, Deaf Smith County, Texas, and Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
But in 1987 Congress balked and directed that only Yucca Mountain be studied as it was next to an existing former nuclear test site.
The US Congress approved it in 2002 for preparation and funding. DOE began work on the site and projected March 2017 as the target date to begin accepting spent nuclear material.
The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository has been very controversial over the years, and Nevada's senior senator, Harry Reid, is said to have predicted "Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen." And when he became Senate Majority Leader in January 2007 he could finally stop it. A litany of shenanigans ensued.
Two weeks ago, an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blasted the symbiotic relationship between Obama and Reid. "To better understand why Senate Democrats killed the filibuster for presidential appointees, consider their latest legal rebuke (DC Circuit Court of Appeals). The Journal notes: "Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to remake the court that is a check on his lawlessness ... Blocking Yucca is Harry's top priority and his political survival depends on it. This means he needs Obama to help him control the NRC ... that in turn gives Obama enormous political leverage on Mr. Reid to carry the President's water."
Thirty years and billions of dollars to safely and wisely solve a deadly national problem and it has come to a dead stop. "Harry, Barack and Yucca Mt. They pack the appeals court that just called out their lawlessness".