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The administration’s budget for the Energy Department raises a disturbing question. Is President Obama, who has pledged to restore science to its rightful place in decision making, now prepared to curtail the scientific analyses needed to determine whether a proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada would be safe to build?
It is no secret that the president and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who hails from Nevada, want to close down the Yucca Mountain project, which excites intense opposition in the state. The administration has proposed a budget for fiscal year 2010 that would eliminate all money for further development of the site, and Mr. Reid has pronounced the project dead.
But the administration at least claimed that it would supply enough money for the Energy Department to complete the process of seeking a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, if only to gain useful knowledge about nuclear waste disposal. Unfortunately, the budget released this month looks as if it will fall well short of the amount needed.