About one-fifth of the electricity Americans use is generated at nuclear power plants. As informed consumers know, those plants generate a large amount of radioactive waste.
Recognizing the peril of storing that waste willy-nilly at utility company facilities, Congress a few years ago mandated that a single, secure nuclear waste repository be established at Yucca Mountain, Nev.
That is a critical need. Not storing radioactive waste securely is an invitation to disaster.
Yet work at Yucca Mountain has been halted, in large measure because of one man - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
''The place is locked up ... Yucca Mountain is an afterthought,'' Reid bragged recently.
By cutting funding for the project and installing a hand-picked man as head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Reid has - with President Barack Obama's help - killed the project.
Earlier this month, a federal court noted it is the law that a waste repository be established. Work should proceed, the court ruled.
Reid's reaction is that the order ''means nothing.''
Defying the court would be unconstitutional - not to mention that it could put tens of millions of Americans at risk.
But Reid doesn't care. By his support of that stance, it appears Obama doesn't, either. Other, more responsible lawmakers should overrule them and comply with the court order.