Global environmental challenges
from The Great Debate:
-Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own-
The project involved more than 2,500 scientists. It cost $ 10.5 billion between 1983 and 2009 and it included one of the most bizarre scientific tasks of all time: evaluate whether nuclear waste stored deep inside a Nevada desert mountain would be safe a million years into the future.
That was the safety standard set in September, 2008, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a condition for allowing nuclear waste to be stored deep in the belly of the Yucca Mountain, 95 miles (155 km) from Las Vegas, long the subject of political debate and a fine example of nimbyism (not in my backyard).
The vastly complex computer models and simulations experts launched to figure out whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe environment in the year 1,000,000 and beyond ended before there was a scientific conclusion.
President Barack Obama has pulled the plug on the entire Yucca Mountain enterprise, million-year safety study and all, by writing it out of his financial year 2011 budget, which begins in October.
California, always seeking to be a trendsetter on environmental policy, is weighing a proposal to charge 25 cents for every paper or plastic bag distributed at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. The money raised would go into a state fund used to clean up trash and prevent litter related to what the bill calls “single-use” bags.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, says 25 cents a bag is high enough to have a real impact on consumer behavior. The fee would be waived for some low-income Californians.