Appeals Court: Obama Shutdown of Yucca Mountain Is Illegal

Yucca Mountain supporters / AP

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A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) violated the law by allowing the Obama administration to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, according to the Associated Press:

In a sharply worded opinion, the court said the nuclear agency was "simply flouting the law" when it allowed the Obama administration to continue plans to close the proposed waste site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The action goes against a federal law designating Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository.

"The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections," Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a majority opinion, which was joined Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland dissented in the case.

"It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," Kavanaugh wrote.

The Obama administration deserted the $15 billion Yucca Mountain project after pressure to close the site from Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.). According to the AP, the administration blamed "budgetary limitations" from Congress as the cause of their inaction on the NRC project.