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October 24, 2014

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Guinn predicts more governors will oppose Yucca

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Kenny Guinn is alone among the nation's governors in his opposition to Yucca Mountain, Guinn said today at the National Governors Association's winter meeting.

Governors in states like Missouri, Nebraska and Utah have voiced concerns about highly radioactive waste being shipped to a national nuclear waste dump at the Nevada site, Guinn said. But none have committed to leaning on their lawmakers in Congress to oppose the project -- not yet, Guinn said.

"This issue is just beginning to take hold," Guinn said during an interview.

Yucca Mountain is the proposed site of a national burial ground for the high-level nuclear waste now piling up at nuclear power plants and defense sites.

Guinn said he plans to make more national television news appearances as Nevada officials publicize the risks associated with shipping the nation's nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. Stressing those dangers is among their strategies being used in an effort to ultimately kill the Yucca project.

Guinn appeared on a talk show on C-SPAN Sunday, outlining the state's opposition to the project.

"I think there is an issue here for all of America to get involved in," Guinn told viewers, speaking of the waste transportation issue.

Many people nationwide -- including political leaders -- are not familiar with waste transportation issues, Guinn said. Guinn said his opposition to Yucca Mountain makes for a lonely battle among the nation's governors. Guinn spoke to several governors this morning, but they offered little support.

"They said, 'We really haven't thought much about the transportation,' " Guinn said. "Their focus has been, 'We're going to get it out of our state.' "

Guinn attended a black tie dinner with President Bush at the White House Sunday and planned to attend a two-hour meeting today for the governors and Bush at the White House. Guinn does not expect to talk to Bush about Bush's decision to endorse the Yucca project.

Guinn, who helped lead Bush's campaign in Nevada, said Bush did not hurt Republicans because Yucca Mountain is not a political issue. He said both Republicans and Democrats have supported the Yucca project during its 15-year history.

Guinn did not say when he would file a formal veto of Bush's Yucca approval. He had 60 days from Feb. 15, the date of Bush's decision.

Guinn said he was content with the gaming industry's support of anti-Yucca projects. The Nevada Resort Association last week committed $250,000 for lobbying and legal efforts. The American Gaming Association committed $500,000 in December.

"They're stepping to the plate," Guinn said.

Guinn plans to return to Nevada Tuesday. He was trying to arrange a meeting, schedules permitting, with Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign to talk over strategies aimed at blocking the Yucca project in the Senate when lawmakers vote on the issue later this year. Guinn, like most observers, has largely given up hope that the House would vote against the Yucca project.

"I don't think anyone feels we've got any kind of chance there," Guinn said.

The governors association meeting focused mainly around money issues. Governors are asking the federal government to help them pay for highway, education and welfare programs.

The four-day meeting of National Governors Association, which meets twice a year, formally concludes tomorrow.

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