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Telling silence

Published August 17. 2013 4:00AM

Eastern Connecticut's representatives in the Senate and Congress pride themselves on strong environmental records, and with good reason. Strange, then, that only silence came from the offices of Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, also Democrats, when a federal court decision was handed down this week that has the potential of removing the most dangerous, toxic waste found in Connecticut to a safe disposal site out of state.

By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to proceed with the licensing process for the high-level nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Get that facility up and running and the Department of Energy can start moving the nuclear waste now stored at Millstone Power Station to the Yucca facility.

Imagine if a court order came down ordering a factory to stop polluting Long Island Sound or an offending company to remove toxic waste from their superfund site. Most certainly the press releases approving the decision would quickly fill newsroom inboxes and one can just picture Sen. Blumenthal holding a press conference at the site.

Could the lack of enthusiasm for the court decision have anything to do with the fact it exposes the illegal actions of President Obama concerning this matter? He's another Democrat, by the way.

The DOE is required by a law approved by Congress and still in place to remove the nuclear waste from nuclear plants sites around the country. Instead plant operators, including at Millstone, have been forced to build more elaborate containment facilities for the highly radioactive waste.

The NRC had begun reviewing the license application for the storage facility in Nevada, begun under the Bush administration, when President Obama, during his first term, announced the federal government was abandoning the Yucca project. This was a political gift to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who threw his early support behind then-Sen. Obama's presidential candidacy.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals noted that the law is still in place, the license application still valid, and it cannot be ignored.

"The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections," wrote Judge Brett M. Kavanagh.

Sen. Reid seemed unbothered. License approval or not, there is no budget for the project, he said. Perhaps Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy can remind Sen. Reid that there should be funding? We await the press releases and news conference.

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