A little more than two years ago, we supported the idea of a blue ribbon commission back when President Obama suggested it -- with reservations.
It seemed like a good idea to have an independent group look at a nuclear future for this country.
At the same time, we saw the absurdity of manipulating the focus of the scientific review to guarantee a politically expedient outcome.
From the outset, the panel was directed by the Obama administration not to consider Yucca Mountain as an alternative for nuclear waste disposal.
Never miss a local story.
This is part of what we wrote Jan. 10, 2012: "The blue ribbon commission is supposed to issue an interim report in 18 months and final recommendations in two years. It will be worth the wait if the exercise leads to a more rational approach to nuclear energy."
Now that the report is in, we're not so sure panel members lived up to their potential. Obama's decision to abandon Yucca Mountain reset the process for finding a permanent solution to the nation's growing stockpile of nuclear wastes to zero.
Unfortunately, the panel's report doesn't move the needle.
The commission is recommending immediate efforts to develop at least one geologic disposal facility for long-term handling of waste -- one that has community support.
The condition is problematic at best, and likely impossible to achieve. After all, just how big is "a community?"
In the case of Yucca Mountain, the small community immediately surrounding the proposed repository supported the project.
They have been consistent advocates for 20 years, no doubt partly because of the $15 billion that has been poured into the site.
But also because proximity eventually feeds a more realistic comprehension of risks and rewards. Tri-Citians who've tried to convince their Seattle friends of nuclear power's potential are familiar with the phenomenon.
In Nevada, community support for Yucca Mountain ends in Las Vegas.
We expect a similar situation would occur virtually anywhere in the country under consideration for a high-level waste repository.
Cultivating community support is a good idea, but no state is going to greet a waste site with open arms.
Sometimes, the national interest outweighs local concerns. Back in 1943, nobody asked the people of White Bluffs to support the Manhattan Project.
Creating a rational, sustainable policy leading to energy independence warrants a similar response.
"Community support" is a laudable goal and would certainly make completion of the process easier to achieve.
But we doubt it is realistic.