Saturday, June 23, 2007

House attacks comic book about Yucca Mountain

Apparently, legislators have nothing better to do with their time

In case you were wondering what the House was doing about nuclear energy this week, fear not, your brave representatives in Congress attacked a comic book published by the Department of Energy on the subject of radioactive waste.

The House killed "Yucca Mountain Johnny" in a measure by Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., to cut off funding for the Energy Department's Yucca Mountain Youth Zone web site that's home to the smiling, hard-hat wearing, cartoon character. The measure was approved by lawmakers by a voice vote and without debate. To make her point Berkley went completely over the top with a fake picture of a tombstone on her official House website that said "good riddance" to the fictional character.

On the DOE web site, Yucca Mountain Johnny invites kids to learn about radioactive waste and the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project in Nevada. The web site also offers puzzles and quizzes. It's harmless at best and probably well-intentioned, but misguided at worst.

However, the Nevada Democrat sees a sinister purpose in the web site. In a letter to colleagues, Berkley complained that the Web site "uses games and activities for children to promote a one-sided, unbalanced point of view regarding the disposal of nuclear waste."

I guess in Nevada, at least in Rep. Berkley's part of it, to paraphrase Barry Goldwater, extremism in the defense of the state against Yucca Mountain is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of a rational solution to manage spent nuclear fuel is no virture.

Hey Shelly, one other thing. Children don't vote, or maybe that's why the comic book is such a tempting target as opposed to doing real work on energy policy?

As Charlie Brown, another famous comic book character once said, famously, "good grief."

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