"NRC chairman bending rules in Yucca Mountain proceeding " (Opinion, Oct. 21), a reprint of a Seattle Times editorial, lacks facts and context.
The decision to transition to closeout activities for the high-level waste program at Yucca Mountain was not unilateral or political. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved this budgetary approach for Fiscal Year 2011 almost a year ago. When the year began Oct. 1, that was put in place after review by NRC's general counsel. This action is consistent with appropriations law, commission policy, staff-delegated responsibilities and ultimately the chairman's authority as the agency's principal executive officer. The commission declined to revisit this decision earlier this month. As a safety regulator, beginning to move to close out the program was about the best use of limited resources. The Department of Energy has decided not to pursue its application to construct a repository at Yucca Mountain. The NRC's approach will ensure that the extensive data gathered during the application review is fully preserved.
Finally, these actions are separate from our hearing process. The agency's administrative actions are simply a matter of efficient resource management and good government.