The Obama administration has shown a certain ruthless streak when it comes to getting what it wants. For its latest in brass-knuckle tactics, consider the ongoing fight over the proposed Yucca nuclear waste facility.
This tale begins in 2008, when candidate Obama was determined to win Nevada, a crucial electoral state. Catering to locals, Mr. Obama promised to kill plans—approved by Congress—to make the state's Yucca Mountain the repository for spent nuclear fuel. He was backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevadan who has made Yucca's demise an overriding priority.
Shortly after inauguration, Messrs. Obama and Reid teamed up to elevate Gregory Jaczko to chair the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the nation's independent regulator. Mr. Jaczko was anything but a neutral designee, having served for years on the staffs of both Mr. Reid and Massachusetts' antinuke Rep. Edward Markey. As a Reid adviser, Mr. Jaczko headed up opposition to Yucca. The clear intent in making him chairman was to ensure Yucca's demise.
Toward that end, the Obama Department of Energy quickly filed a formal request with the NRC to revoke the license application for Yucca. A coalition of states and industry groups—drowning in spent fuel—then petitioned to prevent the department from doing so. The issue was thrown to a panel of NRC administrative judges. Much to the administration's frustration, they ruled unanimously in June of last year that the Energy Department lacked the authority to "singlehandedly derail" a policy that had been directed by Congress.
Enter the brass knuckles.