Real Consent for Nuclear Waste Management Starts with a Free Market
Getting nuclear waste management right is important if America is to continue benefiting from nuclear energy, which currently supplies 19 percent of the nation’s electricity. The Department of Energy is seeking to define a consent-based process for siting interim and long-term storage facilities for commercial nuclear waste. Yet the faulty system of misaligned incentives to manage commercial waste remains in place, muddling not only the goal of attaining true consent, but also long-term storage. The nuclear industry is capable of, and should be responsible for, nuclear waste management. This naturally allows “consent” to take whatever shape communities or states deem best, without government coercion, and opens the possibility for innovation. The government should maintain the role of regulator. Finland, as the first country to license construction of a long-term repository, provides a good example.