It's a shame that the general public doesn't even know or understand the real history. In the beginning, as the first nuclear-powered, electrical generating plants in the USA were built and commissioned in the late '60s and early '70s, spent nuclear fuel recycling was the plan. After all, the technology was developed just north of a little town called Richland in 1944-45 as a part of the then-secret Manhattan Project.
But in 1977, Pres. Jimmy Carter, with no scientific merit or basis, decreed that the USA, despite having invented and proven the technology, would not re-process spent nuclear fuel. It was purely a political decision, it had no basis in science, risk or technology. Even though Japan and France and Russia were doing spent fuel recycling successfully then, and are still doing it now, thanks to U.S.-developed technology.
So, every nuclear plant operator, from that time has had to pay a 0.1 cent per KW hour tax, to the federal government, under the agreement that the feds would "someday" take the spent fuel.
And 35 years later, with billions and billions of dollars paid by nuclear utilities (and thus their consumers like you and me) the government has not yet taken delivery of one assembly of spent fuel. Not only that, we don't have any sort of a plan to do so. Most nuclear plants have had to spend many millions on dry spent-fuel cask storage on site, since the government has reneged on its promise to take the spent fuel.
The fact that we even call it waste is sad. Spent nuclear fuel still contains billions of dollars of energy, if reprocessed. And the amount of true "waste" left over after re-processing is reduced by an order of magnitude. ll over petty politics, unfounded in science.
To add insult to injury, the government is picking winners and losers, even pitting one form of energy production against another. The government doles out tax credits to some kinds of loser energy production, like wind, and then assesses tax penalties on top of broken promises and commitments to the nuclear generation industry and thus its consumers.
It's enough to make one wonder: What is the federal government doing in the energy business? There is no constitutional mandate for the federal government to meddle in energy. Not gas, not coal, not wind, not nuclear, not hydro. We didn't even have a Department of Energy until 1977. Thank Mr. Jimmy Carter for that one, too.
-- MICHAEL SCRIMSHER, Burbank Heights