"While President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget proposal is expected to sound a death knell for the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, the administration has so far failed to launch the blue-ribbon commission it promised almost a year ago to decide on a waste-disposal alternative.
Hanging in the balance is 60,000 metric tons of commercial and defense nuclear waste.
"I find it quite disconcerting that a commission with a proper broad charter to look at this problem hasn't been created," said Arjun Makhijani, president of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, a nonprofit opposed to nuclear power.
"I think the bigger danger is that inaction will simply lead us back to Yucca Mountain," Makhijani said, adding, "Leaving the problem to fester is not good."
No one expected the issue would be left to fester last February when Obama dramatically cut funding for the Nevada repository in his fiscal 2010 budget request and announced his intention to form a commission to chart an alternative waste-management solution. Energy Secretary Steven Chu quickly followed up, telling Congress last March that the commission would be formed "ideally" within a month and would craft recommendations by the end of 2009."