Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

"In short, the selection of Yucca Mountain has failed, the time for debate on this site is over, and it is time to start exploring new alternatives for safe, long-term solutions based on sound science."

That is Barack Obama in a letter he submitted to Senators Boxer and Reid on 30 OCT 2007 regarding a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Repository.  Although Obama was not a member of the Committee, the future Presidential candidate felt obliged to pen a letter to the Senate Majority Leader and the Chairwoman of the Committee for reasons that were wholly political.  

His future opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and she was present at the hearing.  Her position on the matter was clear and unequivocal: "Yucca Mountain is not a safe place to store spent fuel from our nation's nuclear reactors." 

It is a position she has maintained for many years.  Indeed, she voted against the authorization of the development of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain on 9 July 2002. She also issued a press release after she cast that courageous vote.

Obama also had the opportunity to oppose the nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain in 2002, when the Illinois state Senate considered an instrument entitled Illinois State Senate Resolution 342 on 18 APR 2002. According to the synopsis, SR0342 "[u]rges Congress to sustain President Bush's affirmative decision on Yucca Mountain's suitability as a permanent federal repository for high-level radioactive materials." Although Obama was present when the bill was considered on the floor of the Illinois state Senate, he did not voice any objections.  As a result, SR0342 was adopted with the unanimous consent of Barack Obama and the entire Illinois state Senate.  I quote the relevant passages on page 26 of this transcript of the proceedings of the Illinois state Senate:

Illinois state Senator Barack Obama had two opportunities to engage in a discussion on SR0342, but he remained silent.  And he remained silent until 30 OCT 2007, when for political reasons the aspiring President informed Senators Boxer and Reid that he believed "the time for debate on this site is over." But what of the two opportunities he had to debate the Yucca Mountain resolution he and the Illinois state Senate adopted with unanimous consent in April 2002?   Was not April 2002 the time for vigorous debate on President Bush's recommendation?  Hillary Clinton certainly thought so.  Obama, on the other hand, did not, for it was not politically expedient for the Illinois state Senator to oppose George Bush and the nuclear energy lobby of Illinois: his bid for the Presidency was not yet on the horizon, and Obama would have to rely on Illinois special interests such as Exelon, the atomic energy giant that donated $74,350 to Obama in 2004, in order to raise funds for his US Senate bid.

But even more troubling is the $181,000 Obama has accepted from Exelon since he announced his Presidential bid. How can Obama protect Nevadans from the nuclear power lobby when he is financially beholden to the special interests who desire to dump their radioactive toxic waste at Yucca Mountain?

Tags: atomic energy lobby, Barack Obama, Democrats, Exelon, Hillary Clinton, Illinois state senate, Nevada, nuclear energy lobby, president, Primaries, US Senate, Yucca Mountain (all tags)



Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Awesome diary truth and very informative. I always learn something new from your diaries! Rec'd.

by lonnette33 2008-01-17 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Awesome, truth, informative?

Some of us are not getting it, except the obvious: another antiObama, proHillary diary, this one stretching some vague point or innuendo.

Understandably, Hillary's national lead is being shrunk to nothing. But this kind of negativity doesn't help to stave the bleeding. Hillary is the Republican Lite candidate and a dangerous Neocon and people are getting wise to it. That's all.

by shergald 2008-01-17 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Everything cited in my diary is factual.  This is also apposite:

It's not always clear what Obama's financial backers want, but it seems safe to conclude that his campaign contributors are not interested merely in clean government and political reform. And although Obama is by no means a mouthpiece for his funders, it appears that he's not entirely indifferent to their desires either.

Consider the case of Illinois-based Exelon Corporation, the nation's leading nuclear-power-plant operator. The firm is Obama's fourth largest patron, having donated a total of $74,350 to his campaigns. During debate on the 2005 energy bill, Obama helped to vote down an amendment that would have killed vast loan guarantees for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects. The loan guarantees were called "one of the worst provisions in this massive piece of legislation" by Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste; the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default.

Harper's Magazine

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 05:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

When Hillaryphiles criticize another candidate for taking corporate PAC money, it goes without saying that they are just dishonest or lacking insight into how the game is being played. Obama knows that he cannot win without deep pockets, and the only question is, in what way will it affect an Obama administration.

I am deeply impressed by Obama's instincts to help ordinary people in his early career, and it is my belief that he will revert to them once elected.

by shergald 2008-01-18 03:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Do you ever challenge your beliefs?

by truthteller2007 2008-01-18 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

This is pretty interesting.  Everyone panders to Nevada on Yucca Mountain, but I'm pretty sure Hillary had no idea in 2002 that Nevada was going to be an early state six years in the future.  So she gets cred here.

by Steve M 2008-01-17 05:44PM | 0 recs
Yet, Hillary Should Be Asked...

The very strange thing about suggesting that Hillary "has been against" Yucca mountain is that during Bill Clinton's presidency 1992-2000 (when Hillary was first lady), the Clinton administration went full speed ahead on Yucca mountain.  The Clinton administration spent Billions (with a "B") of our tax dollars pursuing Yucca mountain.

Here is what former Nevada Governor Bob List had to say about the Clinton administration's support for Yucca mountain:

I would say that the project was advancing more during the Clinton years financially than at any other time.  They poured billions into it and didn't slow it down one bit.  

What kind of country do we live in where the press does not ask Hillary Clinton this simple question:  Did your husband Bill Clinton waste billions of taxpayer dollars on Yucca mountain?  Are there any journalists in the house?

A second, related question to ask Hillary would be this: as first lady, did you express an opinion on spending Billions (with a "B") pursuing Yucca mountain?  And what was that opinion?

I am always perplexed at what passes for journalism in my beloved democracy. There seems to be a desire to keep the people wrapped in a hazy state of half-understanding. Or maybe it is the journalists who are in this state...and they just progagate it.  Hmmmm...

by Demo37 2008-01-17 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Yet, Hillary Should Be Asked...

Clinton vetoed bills authorizing nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain.  And the Senate failed to override those vetoes.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 07:42PM | 0 recs
Your Comment Is Nonresponsive

Truthteller, you direct me to a veto in the 8th year of Bill Clinton's presidency, of a bill that would have (IMHO stupidly) begun shipping waste to the Clinton administration's creation...Yucca mountain...before it was even completed and proper standards set.  

The idea behind that bill was to begin shipping the waste to the site, and storing temporarily there, in temporary storage, even before the Clinton administration had completed its billion dollar efforts to properly build Yucca mountain.

What Bill Clinton did with his veto was to essentially say this:  I have spent years and billions of taxpayers dollars building Yucca mountain.  Let's do it right Congress and not rush waste to it...until we have completed it.

by Demo37 2008-01-17 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Your Comment Is Nonresponsive

Clinton vetoed the legislation.  

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Is the point of this that an Illinois State Senator acted in a way which best benefited the State of Illinois?  And all the other State Senators did as well?  Shocking.

by Piuma 2008-01-17 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

IT reveals that he has been and always will be beholden to the nuclear energy lobby and to George Bush's energy policy.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 06:47PM | 0 recs
Good work

Nice to know that Obama isn't allowed to change his mind over an issue so important to the entire country as Yucca Mountain, but Hillary's flip flopping on the most important issue of our generation is apparently immaterial.

by highgrade 2008-01-17 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Good work

Many Nevadans and environmentalists view Yucca Mountain as a pressing issue.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Regarding the 2002 resolution, is there any record of how the individual senators voted--that is, a record of the individual "ayes" and "nays"? Obama may very well have voted "aye" for all I know, however nothing in this diary indicates whether the resolution had his support. Rather, there is only evidence that the resolution passed without discussion and that he was present while this happened.

Maybe I'm missing something, but that's all I gather from this.

by DPW 2008-01-17 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

No one objected, and the resolution was adopted with unanimous consent.  The presiding officer asked if Senators wanted to engage in discussion twice, but no one responded.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Where does it say it was adopted with unanimous consent? It just says "the ayes have it." I don't understand that to mean that there were no "nays." The failure to object or contribute discussion does not mean that there were no "nays." Someone might very well vote against it without offering substantive remarks in opposition.

Again, I have no proof to suggest that Obama voted "nay," but I don't see any evidence showing me otherwise either.

by DPW 2008-01-17 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

my response is located below this comment.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

No one asked questions, no one request a discussion, and it was adopted immediately.  If Obama opposed Bush's energy policy and the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, he would have raised an objection.  And if you read the entire transcript, you will notice that other resolutions and bills had recorded votes.  No vote was recorded for this resolution, as it was unanimously adopted by voice vote.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-17 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Excellent diary, truth. And after reading the comments section it becomes obvious that nearly every blog or forum posting I read that puts forth truthful, factual information about Sen. Obama is immediately seized upon by a rush of Obamabots who come forth with all sorts of challenges but nothing factual to back them up. It becomes an endless game of childish "why, mommy, why" which can never be satisfied. Thanks, truth, for enduring the professional whiners. May they all be out of a job by November 15, 2008.

by Artificial Intelligence 2008-01-17 11:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

Good info, though I think your opening paragraph might be omitted or moved, as it gives the impression that this might be a pro-Obama piece.

by 1950democrat 2008-01-19 12:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack Obama on Yucca Mountain Then and Now

I seduce readers only to shock them with Obama's checkered relationship with the atomic energy lobby.

by truthteller2007 2008-01-19 07:33AM | 0 recs


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