Trump Solves Nuclear Waste Problem, But Media Refuses to Give Him Credit

This is just Hollywood. In reality, radioactivity kills ants, and that's a good thing.Warner Brothers

On Monday I had dinner with a friend who insisted that nuclear needed to be a big part of any climate change plan. We just had to get smart about how to build nuclear power plants. I didn’t disagree, but reminded him that the big problem with nuclear has always been radioactive waste. After 70 years, we still don’t have any great ideas about how to handle that.

But I was wrong! The Trump administration, as always, has figured out a unique way to slash through this Gordian knot:

The U.S. government on Wednesday will reclassify some of the nation’s most dangerous radioactive waste to lower its threat level, outraging critics who say the move would make it cheaper and easier to walk away from cleaning up nuclear weapons production sites in Washington state, Idaho and South Carolina. The U.S. Department of Energy said labeling some high-level waste as low level will save $40 billion in cleanup costs across the nation’s entire nuclear weapons complex.

….The waste is housed at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina, the Idaho National Laboratory and Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state….The new rules would allow the Energy Department to eventually abandon storage tanks containing more than 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of radioactive waste in the three states, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That’s the answer for weapons-grade nuclear waste, but what about the stuff from power plants? That’s even easier: just reclassify it as agricultural waste and compost it. Liberals, with all their yammering about “policy” and “plans” and “safety” would never have thought of this. Only the Trumpies, who came to office promising to disrupt the tired old bureaucracy with insights gained from building golf courses, could have come up with this. Huzzah!


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.