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September 20, 2014

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SUN EDITORIAL:

A political meltdown

Republicans making desperate attempt to send radioactive waste to Nevada

Greg Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, recently told his staff to start phasing out their review of the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

That caused an outcry from the nuclear industry and its supporters in Congress. They claim Jaczko has overstepped his bounds and is motivated by “partisan politics” because, before being named to the commission, he was an aide to Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

But those accusations are ridiculous. Jaczko’s decision isn’t political, it’s practical. The White House has zeroed out the budget for Yucca and is trying to withdraw the foolish Bush-era application to build the waste dump, an application made to the NRC. President Barack Obama has declared his opposition to a Yucca repository and formed a commission to study what else the nation can do with its nuclear waste instead of hauling it across the country to Nevada. Given all of that, what’s the point of the NRC spending any more money evaluating the project?

Republicans say only Congress can end the project, and they still claim that it’s good policy. How they do that with a straight face is a mystery.

The federal government has spent billions of dollars on it and only has a big hole in the ground to show for it. The science the Bush administration used to try to support the project is, at best, incomplete, and the science there has been called into question time and again. There are significant, unresolved safety concerns about the project, and Yucca Mountain is a terrible site to begin with. It’s a porous volcanic ridge, and studies have shown that it is hardly suitable to contain nuclear waste. Besides, the waste is safe where it is — at reactor sites, safely enclosed in concrete.

Yet Republicans want to spend billions more — the Energy Department estimates it could cost $100 billion — pursuing a dangerous project. And this is the party that declares itself to be fiscally responsible?

Although Republicans are quick to complain about politics, they don’t want to acknowledge that the roots of the project are steeped in it. Yucca Mountain was chosen as the proposed site for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste in 1987 over several much more suitable sites because Nevada didn’t have any political clout at the time. There were better sites in other states, including locations in Texas and Washington. But those states had clout: The vice president and speaker of the House were from Texas; the majority leader in the House was from Washington. Nevada’s small congressional delegation didn’t have much muscle.

In the years since, the federal government has spent billions of dollars trying to support a poor choice, and that effort has largely been supported by the Republican Party, which has done the bidding of the nuclear industry.

Led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada’s congressional delegation has solidly been against a Yucca repository for years and has pushed the project to the brink of defeat. We can’t imagine what would have happened had Reid lost to Sharron Angle, who would have recklessly pushed ahead with efforts to bring nuclear waste to Nevada.

It is clear that Republicans, as they prepare to take control of the House, are ramping up a last-ditch effort to push a Yucca dump through. The GOP is starting with a high-profile and what appears to be coordinated attack on Jaczko because of his ties to Reid.

House Republicans have requested the NRC turn over documents about its deliberations on Yucca, and three Republican members recently wrote a letter to the White House demanding answers about Jaczko’s actions. And a former Republican member of the NRC complained to its inspector general, calling for an investigation of Jaczko.

And the Republicans have the gall to ascribe political motivations to Jaczko?

Let’s end the charade. Republicans are playing politics once again, and they are willing to risk the nation’s safety and spend billions of dollars in the process. That’s despicable.

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  1. The libertarian loons are typically hypocritical on this. "Less government" - yet the Price Anderson Act made the government indemnify the nuclear industry. In addition, we have a government waste storage facility? Sounds like more government, I thought the Republicans and libertoonians wanted "less government."

  2. And of course what this article conveniently omits is that it was a Democrat in the form former US Senator J. Bennett Johnson that authored the so-called "Screw Nevada" bill that targeted Yucca mountain to begin with. And lets not make the claim that Nevada was solely picked on because we had no "political clout". Nevada was also picked on because this state had allowed nuke tests out in this area for years without so much as a complaint from any of the state "leaders"..

  3. I am simply not convinced why southern Nevada needs to have a national nuclear waste dump.

    Every single justification I see for it is pushed hard by others..that are not even from here.

    I have heard a lot of flimsy excuses why it should happen. One of the most idiotic is southern Nevada has a long nuclear history due to the Nevada Test Site. THAT is not an excuse why Yucca should happen. That is not a good enough reason why it should continue, branching off into nuclear waste. That stops. Our legacy on that issue is over with. When it involves something that will prove harmful and devastating for not only us, but for our children's children's children.

    The fingers always point at Nevada, but they gloss over the fact that the hazardous waste generated by their power plants can be adequately stored safely there for years and years. And I have recently read articles by whistle blowers that point out ALREADY, the nuclear waste stored in other States is slowly leaking due to faulty and improper nuclear waste handling and storage.

    Still they want to get rid of it and turn southern Nevada into a nuclear waste toilet receptacle. If we get this, we're stuck with it. Forever. ONE mistake, I mean one single mistake in the handling of it, will prove catastrophic. Not only now, but for generations. Why risk something stupid like that for only slight returns now?

    This fight is not only Senator Reid's fight. This fight needs to be shared by all in Nevada.

    The message is clear. We don't want this, and never have. We fight for Nevada. And if this involves making scientists, politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, court reporters, judges and anyone else with a vested interested lining up, screaming and spending money and filing law suits...so be it. We run them ALL broke pursuing an agenda that is not going to happen. Then and only then will they understand they can't impose their will on Nevada, telling us what to do. Spend freely, everyone, trying to push this off on Nevada. We are NEVER taking nuclear waste here. WE FIGHT THIS. Tooth and nail.

    Now those with an agenda pushing for this can simply say I'm in the minority with my opinion. And that's fine. But I really, really doubt that is the case. I am pretty sure I can safely say I speak for a clear majority of people in southern Nevada (especially Las Vegans) when I say this is not a good idea. And never has been. And never will be.

    Thank God we have Senator Reid and President Obama to put a stop to these power mad people who are only interested in money...and not safety and welfare.

  4. You don't need to be a scientist to know that a volcanic mountain sitting on a fault line over Nevada's underground water table is a bad place to store nuke waste . future can cry all he want's but we the citizens of Nevada will never let them put it here !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. -Welcome to 'Viva Las Vegas' the Land of the 'Republicans' Repository Nuclear Waste site-!!!

    It would be a bad slogan... see my point???

    'Dump this trash on the neighbors land and let them take care of it'! That would be the easiest thing to say from an irresponsible neighbor!!

    It's common sense! We Nevadans don't like other peoples trash in our State-specially if it involves Nuclear Waste!!!

  6. "Less Government" means turning the financial system over to the Bankers and Insurance Execs and let them set their own commissions and rules.

    The Republicans (authored by Phil Gramm )finally succeeded in destroying the Glass Steagall (1933 Securities) Act and just 5 years later ANOTHER FINANCIAL MELTDOWN occurs and the Republicans STILL DO NOT WANT REGULATION.

    "Less Government" means fast easy money at the top and bottom feeders get a second job to pay their bills. Break your leg and loose your life's savings to fix it. I feel a riot coming on.

  7. The basic problem with Yucca Mountain is that it is too close, approximately 100 miles, from Las Vegas, therefore, any adverse impact, however, improbable can make our state lose even more than what we have lost already in the tourism industry of gambling.
    Instead of having a centralized site to basically store the nuclear waste for the foreseeable future, an alternative is to develop regional recycling facilities closer to the point of generation; yes nuclear waste can be recycled. We, in Nevada, need to think of alternative usage for Yucca Mountain and one of the best that I can think of is as a long term food depository in case of a national emergency such as a major earthquake on the west coast, the detonation of the super volcano underneath Yellow Stone National Park, etc.