Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science

First Committee Member

David Fott

Second Committee Member

Steven Parker

Third Committee Member

Dennis Pirages

Fourth Committee Member

Bernard Malamud

Number of Pages

75

Abstract

The problem of nuclear waste disposal has existed since the time of the Manhattan Project in World War II. Although there exist a number of technological hurdles, the main cause that has consistently plagued a solution to nuclear waste has been the politics behind it. This thesis attempts to add to the political literature behind nuclear waste disposal by examining the nuclear waste disposal preferences of members of the United States House and Senate. It then compares and contrasts those preferences with a report by President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. The hope was to determine if the commission's recommendation, the controversial method of geologic disposal, would be an acceptable method to the Energy Committees of both houses of Congress or if there existed an alternative disposal method that found acceptance. The study's results found an alternative disposal method, reprocessing of nuclear waste, was acceptable to the Congressional committees, while there was a division of support in the committees in regards to geologic disposal. Even with these results, the lack of discussion of the issue of nuclear waste in the energy committees of Congress translated into a scarcity of data for the study. This in turn, weakens the explanatory effect of the results. However, given the weaknesses, this does not soften the importance of the study or the issue of nuclear waste. Future studies, as data becomes available, will help shed light on the preferences of members of Congress for nuclear waste disposal methods. This information will be useful in possibly resolving the problem of nuclear waste disposal by finding a political solution that the United States Congress, the President of the United States, and the American public find agreeable.

Keywords

Congressional preferences; Content analysis; Nevada – Yucca Mountain; Nuclear waste policy; Politics, Practical; Radioactive waste disposal; Radioactive wastes – Government policy; Reactor fuel reprocessing – Waste disposal; Reprocessing

Disciplines

American Politics | Energy Policy | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Political Science | Science and Technology Policy

Language

English