According to one federal judge, the president is not allowed to do whatever he wants.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot delay its decision on whether or not to license a nuclear waste storage facility project at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
The Department of Energy submitted an application to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain to the NRC in June 2008. The NRC is statutorily required to issue a decision on the license within three years, but has not done so over five years later.
Instead the NRC has “simply shut down its review and consideration” of the Energy Department’s pending license, according to the decision, amid the Obama administration’s hopes to abandon the project entirely, but the federal court sharply rebuked the President for instructing his administration not to follow the law.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote that “the President must follow statutory mandates so long as there is appropriated money available and the President has no constitutional objection to the statute…[b]ut the President may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections.”
The stinging condemnation may speak to other laws the current administration has failed to act upon in light of accusation that only laws — or parts of laws — the president finds politically palatable have been implemented.