After decades of indecision about where to store nuclear waste, in 2002 President George W. Bush approved building a permanent repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. In 2009, under political pressure, President Obama halted construction plans. Still, the U.S. Department of Energy continued collecting fees from nuclear power plants for future construction ("Mountain of doubt," HCN, 1/19/09).
In mid-November, a D.C. federal court of appeals ordered the government to stop collecting those fees, now totaling more than $30 billion. "Until the department comes to some conclusion as to how nuclear wastes are to be deposited permanently," the ruling said, "it seems quite unfair to force petitioners to pay fees for a hypothetical option." In an August court decision, however, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission resumed its review of the Yucca site application, and now the Department of Energy says a permanent repository will be open by 2048 (location TBA).