Sarah Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere

From “The Washington Post”

Sarah Palin and the Bridge to Nowhere

“She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere.”
–“Original Mavericks” Ad, September 7, 2008.

The McCain-Palin campaign seems to think that a statement becomes true simply by dint of repetition. A TV advertisement repeats the dubious claim that vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin “stopped” the nation’s most infamous symbol of pork-barrel spending. It’s been pretty clearly established by now that the “bridge to nowhere” was going nowhere at all before the Alaska governor formally signed the death warrant in September 2007.

The Facts

When Sarah Palin announced the abandonment of the “bridge to nowhere” on September 21, 2007, she issued a statement acknowledging the obvious: Congress was no longer prepared to foot the bill. “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here,” she told Alaskans. “But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

It was a plea for realism. Pork-barrel spending had become a red-button political issue, and Alaska was routinely cited by watchdog groups as the biggest recipient of Congressional largesse, thanks to the efforts of its long-time Republican senator Ted Stevens and Congressman Don Young. Alaska has consistently topped the pork per capita ratings drawn up by Citizens Against Government Waste since 2000. According to the latest 2008 ranking, every Alaskan received $555 in pork over the last year, compared to $25 for every inhabitant of Illinois and $15 for every Arizonan.

Palin had a different view of the bridge project linking the town of Ketchikan (population 7,500) with an airport on sparsely populated Gravina island when she was running for governor of Alaska in 2006. In answers to a written questionnaire from the Anchorage Daily News, she said that the time to build the bridge was “now–while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

As governor, Palin opted to use the $200 million that Congress had originally set aside for the bridge for other transportation projects. It is therefore inaccurate for her to claim, as she did at the Republican Convention earlier this month and repeatedly since, including on the campaign trail today, that she said “thanks, but no thanks,” to Congress on the “bridge to nowhere” project.

During her State of the State address in January, Palin told Alaskans that “we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks.” While she has cut back on earmark requests, records cited by the Associated Press show that she has requested $750 million in federal subsidies during her two years as governor, the largest per-capita request in the nation.

The Pinocchio Test

While it is true that Palin declared an end to the project, that’s beside the point. It would be more accurate to say that she finally bowed to fiscal reality and congressional politics after a year as governor, and killed off a project that had become a national joke.

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What’s the Difference Between Palin and Muslim Fundamentalists? Lipstick

What’s the Difference Between Palin and Muslim Fundamentalists? Lipstick

A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian.

by Juan Cole

John McCain announced that he was running for president to confront the “transcendent challenge” of the 21st century, “radical Islamic extremism,” contrasting it with “stability, tolerance and democracy.” But the values of his handpicked running mate, Sarah Palin, more resemble those of Muslim fundamentalists than they do those of the Founding Fathers. On censorship, the teaching of creationism in schools, reproductive rights, attributing government policy to God’s will and climate change, Palin agrees with Hamas and Saudi Arabia rather than supporting tolerance and democratic precepts. What is the difference between Palin and a Muslim fundamentalist? Lipstick.

McCain pledged to work for peace based on “the transformative ideals on which we were founded.” Tolerance and democracy require freedom of speech and the press, but while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin inquired of the local librarian how to go about banning books that some of her constituents thought contained inappropriate language. She tried to fire the librarian for defying her. Book banning is common to fundamentalisms around the world, and the mind-set Palin displayed did not differ from that of the Hamas minister of education in the Palestinian government who banned a book of Palestinian folk tales for its sexually explicit language. In contrast, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

Palin argued when running for governor that creationism should be taught in public schools, at taxpayers’ expense, alongside real science. Antipathy to Darwin for providing an alternative to the creation stories of the Bible and the Quran has also become a feature of Muslim fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia prohibits the study, even in universities, of evolution, Freud and Marx. Malaysia has banned a translation of “The Origin of the Species.” Likewise, fundamentalists in Turkey have pressured the government to teach creationism in the public schools. McCain has praised Turkey as an anchor of democracy in the region, but Turkey’s secular traditions are under severe pressure from fundamentalists in that country. McCain does them no favors by choosing a running mate who wishes to destroy the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids the state to give official support to any particular theology. Turkish religious activists would thereby be enabled to cite an American precedent for their own quest to put religion back at the center of Ankara’s public and foreign policies.

The GOP vice-presidential pick holds that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or severe birth defects, making an exception only if the life of the mother is in danger. She calls abortion an “atrocity” and pledges to reshape the judiciary to fight it. Ironically, Palin’s views on the matter are to the right of those in the Muslim country of Tunisia, which allows abortion in the first trimester for a wide range of reasons. Classical Muslim jurisprudents differed among one another on the issue of abortion, but many permitted it before the “quickening” of the fetus, i.e. until the end of the fourth month. Contemporary Muslim fundamentalists, however, generally oppose abortion.

Palin’s stance is even stricter than that of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2005, the legislature in Tehran attempted to amend the country’s antiabortion statute to permit an abortion up to four months in case of a birth defect. The conservative clerical Guardianship Council, which functions as a sort of theocratic senate, however, rejected the change. Iran’s law on abortion is therefore virtually identical to the one that Palin would like to see imposed on American women, and the rationale in both cases is the same, a literalist religious impulse that resists any compromise with the realities of biology and of women’s lives. Saudi Arabia’s restrictive law on abortion likewise disallows it in the case or rape or incest, or of fetal impairment, which is also Gov. Palin’s position.

Theocrats confuse God’s will with their own mortal policies. Just as Muslim fundamentalists believe that God has given them the vast oil and gas resources in their regions, so Palin asks church workers in Alaska to pray for a $30 billion pipeline in the state because “God’s will has to get done.” Likewise, Palin maintained that her task as governor would be impeded “if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran expresses much the same sentiment when he says “the only way to attain prosperity and progress is to rely on Islam.”

Not only does Palin not believe global warming is “man-made,” she favors massive new drilling to spew more carbon into the atmosphere. Both as a fatalist who has surrendered to God’s inscrutable will and as a politician from an oil-rich region, she thereby echoes Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has been found to have exercised inappropriate influence in watering down a report in 2007 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Neither Christians nor Muslims necessarily share the beliefs detailed above. Many believers in both traditions uphold freedom of speech and the press. Indeed, in a recent poll, over 90 percent of Egyptians and Iranians said that they would build freedom of expression into any constitution they designed. Many believers find ways of reconciling the scientific theory of evolution with faith in God, not finding it necessary to believe that the world was created suddenly only 6,000 ago. Some medieval Muslim thinkers asserted that the world had existed from eternity, and others spoke of cycles of hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Mystical Muslim poets spoke of humankind traversing the stages of mineral, plant and animal. Modern Islamic fundamentalists have attempted to narrow this great, diverse tradition.

The classical Islamic legal tradition generally permitted, while frowning on, contraception and abortion, and complete opposition to them is mostly a feature of modern fundamentalist thinking. Many believers in both Islam and Christianity would see it as hubris to tie God to specific government policies or to a particular political party. As for global warming, green theology, in which Christians and Muslims appeal to Scripture in fighting global warming, is an increasing tendency in both traditions.

Palin has a right to her religious beliefs, as do fundamentalist Muslims who agree with her on so many issues of social policy. None of them has a right, however, to impose their beliefs on others by capturing and deploying the executive power of the state. The most noxious belief that Palin shares with Muslim fundamentalists is her conviction that faith is not a private affair of individuals but rather a moral imperative that believers should import into statecraft wherever they have the opportunity to do so. That is the point of her pledge to shape the judiciary. Such a theocratic impulse is incompatible with the Founding Fathers’ commitment to tolerance and democracy, which is why they forbade the government to “establish” or officially support any particular religion or denomination.

McCain once excoriated the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his ilk as “agents of intolerance.” That he took such a position gave his opposition to similar intolerance in Islam credibility. In light of his more recent disgraceful kowtowing to the Christian right, McCain’s animus against fundamentalist Muslims no longer looks consistent. It looks bigoted and invidious. You can’t say you are waging a war on religious extremism if you are trying to put a religious extremist a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Salon contributor Juan Cole is a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and the author of “Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East.”

Yucca Mountain today, nuclear dump ‘forever’?

Yucca Mountain today, nuclear dump ‘forever’?

September 9, 2008 |

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) application for the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dumpsite in Nevada has been accepted for review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

“After three decades of site studies, this action officially kicks off the Yucca Mountain repository licensing proceeding,” explains a September 8 bulletin from Beyond Nuclear. “The State of Nevada, and other dump opponents, will now have 60 days to intervene by submitting contentions to NRC citing legal or technical flaws with the proposal. Nevada is expected to submit hundreds of contentions. An NRC licensing board will decide which contentions will be granted a hearing. NRC’s licensing proceeding will last three to four years. It will then decide whether or not to approve the Yucca Mountain dump.”

Commenting on the decision, Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear says: “The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today showed its blatant bias in favor of the proposed high-level radioactive waste dump in Nevada by docketing the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) license application before the pro-nuclear Bush administration leaves office. In record time, NRC rubberstamped DOE’s half-baked submission, despite its lack of a final repository design, waste transport-storage-burial canister design, and national routing plan for shipping the deadly wastes by road, rail, and waterway through 45 states.

“Despite DOE being nearly six years late in filing its still incomplete license application, NRC recently denied the State of Nevada’s humble and reasonable request for a mere six months to prepare contentions against the dump.

“Why is NRC rushing into the Yucca proceeding at breakneck speed, especially when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not even finalized radiation release regulations for the dumpsite?

“Nevadans know the reason better than anyone, that politics have long trumped science at Yucca Mountain. Interestingly, Nevada’s contentions against the dump are now due right around Election Day. If elected, Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw the Yucca license application. Even John McCain, who has consistently voted in favor of the Yucca dump, has indicated that burying radioactive waste in Nevada may not be the best idea after all. Politics singled out Nevada in the first place, kept the Yucca Mountain Project alive for two decades despite glaring scientific unsuitability, and ironically may now kill the dump in the end.”

Don’t forget the Shoshone

A glaring issue not mentioned by Kevin Kamps, which is altogether ignored by the NRC, EPA, DOE, and both presidential candidates — is that Yucca Mountain falls within the 60 million acres of territory that the US government acknowledged when it signed the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley with the Western Shoshone.

Signed “in peace and friendship,” the treaty formed a relationship similar to the Six Nations Two Row Wampum, which affirmed the Indigenous Nation as culturally and politically distinct from the Nation State.

And so it follows that “even the mere study of the [Yucca Mountain] site is a violation of the treaty,” notes the late Corbin Harney, in a 2000 article, Yucca Mountain: No Place for Waste.

Violation of the treaty goes far beyond holding studies without the Shoshone’s consent, however. Denying their own legislation from time time, the government claims ownership of about 90 per cent of the territory, making it into the Most Atom-Bombed Place on Earth.

As a result, the Shoshone have been “exposed to many years of nuclear weapons testing, suffer from high rates of cancer, leukemia, and other diseases,” notes an in depth article about Yucca Mountain, by Amy Corbin.

The waste dump threatens to intensify this ongoing, near-irreversible health crisis.

It further threatens to harm the Shoshone’s culture, their livelihoods, and their spiritual practices. The Mountain range has been a site to gather medicines and hold Ceremonies for thousands of years. In the place of this, the government wants to store anywhere up to 77,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.

“Current Department of Energy plans call for the highly radioactive nuclear waste to be encased in steel containers and buried deep in the mountain. Since the canisters will last for 1,000 years at most, the dryness of the mountain will have to guarantee against leakage and migration — an idea that environmentalists and many scientists say is a flawed and dangerous assumption. Surface water percolates into the mountain, and will carry radioactive particles into the water table and render it toxic. This water table currently supplies water to local communities and farming regions which produce milk and other food products for the entire country,” Corbin explains.

In addition, “with several local fault lines and a volcano nearby, earthquakes make it likely that the mountain will fracture the repository and send even more water to the waste.”

“Beyond [these and other health and safety] issues lies the fact that the Shoshone should be able to determine what goes on at the mountain due to treaty rights and their historical and spiritual ties to the area. Government work has already disturbed burial remains and denied Native Americans access to the rock prayer rings. The Yucca Mountain controversy is rarely acknowledged as one that, at its heart, is about native sovereignty and the need to care for the land in a way that is spiritually responsible and environmentally sound.”

PS I took the photo of Corbin Harney standing by the Mock Nuclear Cask, gregor

Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home

Palin Billed State for Nights Spent at Home
Taxpayers Also Funded Family’s Travel

By James V. Grimaldi and Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 9, 2008; Page A01

ANCHORAGE, Sept. 8 — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.

Palin, who earns $125,000 a year, claimed and received $16,951 as her allowance, which officials say was permitted because her official “duty station” is Juneau, according to an analysis of her travel documents by The Washington Post.

The governor’s daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel, and many of the trips were between their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.

Gubernatorial spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Monday that Palin’s expenses are not unusual and that, under state policy, the first family could have claimed per diem expenses for each child taken on official business but has not done so.

Before she became the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee, Palin was little known outside Alaska. Now, with the campaign emphasizing her executive experience, her record as mayor of Wasilla, as a state oil-and-gas commissioner and as governor is receiving intense scrutiny.

During her speech at the Republican National Convention last week, Palin cast herself as a crusader for fiscal rectitude as Alaska’s governor. She noted that she sold a state-owned plane used by the former governor. “While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor’s office that I didn’t believe our citizens should have to pay for,” she said to loud applause.

Speaking from Palin’s Anchorage office, Leighow said Palin dealt with the plane and also trimmed other expenses, including forgoing a chef in the governor’s mansion because she preferred to cook for her family. The first family’s travel is an expected part of the job, she said.

“As a matter of protocol, the governor and the first family are expected to attend community events across the state,” she said. “It’s absolutely reasonable that the first family participates in community events.”

The state finance director, Kim Garnero, said Alaska law exempts the governor’s office from elaborate travel regulations. Said Leighow: “The governor is entitled to a per diem, and she claims it.”

The popular governor collected the per diem allowance from April 22, four days after the birth of her fifth child, until June 3, when she flew to Juneau for two days. Palin moved her family to the capital during the legislative session last year, but prefers to stay in Wasilla and drive 45 miles to Anchorage to a state office building where she conducts most of her business, aides have said.

Palin rarely sought reimbursement for meals while staying in Anchorage or Wasilla, the reports show.

She wrote some form of “Lodging — own residence” or “Lodging — Wasilla residence” more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem.

Palin charged the state a per diem for working on Nov. 22, 2007 — Thanksgiving Day. The reason given, according to the expense report, was the Great Alaska Shootout, an annual NCAA college basketball tournament held in Anchorage.

In separate filings, the state was billed about $25,000 for Palin’s daughters’ expenses and $19,000 for her husband’s.

Flights topped the list for the most expensive items, and the daughter whose bill was the highest was Piper, 7, whose flights cost nearly $11,000, while Willow, 14, claimed about $6,000 and Bristol, 17, accounted for about $3,400.

One event was in New York City in October 2007, when Bristol accompanied the governor to Newsweek’s third annual Women and Leadership Conference, toured the New York Stock Exchange and met local officials and business executives. The state paid for three nights in a $707-a-day hotel room. Garnero said the governor’s office has the authority to approve hotel stays above $300.

Asked Monday about the official policy on charging for children’s travel expenses, Garnero said: “We cover the expenses of anyone who’s conducting state business. I can’t imagine kids could be doing that.”

But Leighow said many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of “state business” with the party extending the invitation.

One such invitation came in October 2007, when Willow flew to Juneau to join the Palin family on a tour of the Hub Juneau Christian Teen Center, where Palin and her family worship when they are in Juneau. The state gave the center $25,000, according to a May 2008 memo.

Leighow noted that under state policy, all of the governor’s children are entitled to per diem expenses, even her infant son. “The first family declined the per diem [for] the children,” Leighow said. “The amount that they had declined was $4,461, as of August 5.”

The family also charged for flights around the state, including trips to Alaska events such as the start of the Iditarod dog-sled race and the Iron Dog snowmobile race, a contest that Todd Palin won.

Meanwhile, Todd Palin spent $725 to fly to Edmonton, Alberta, for “information gathering and planning meeting with Northern Alberta Institute of Technology,” according to an expense report. During the three-day trip, he charged the state $291 for his per diem. A notation said “costs paid by Dept. of Labor.” He also billed the state $1,371 for a flight to Washington to attend a National Governors Association meeting with his wife.

Gov. Palin has spent far less on her personal travel than her predecessor: $93,000 on airfare in 2007, compared with $463,000 spent the year before by her predecessor, Frank Murkowski. He traveled often in an executive jet that Palin called an extravagance during her campaign. She sold it after she was sworn into office

She flies coach and encourages her cabinet to fly coach as well,” said Garnero, whose job is equivalent to state controller. “Some do, some don’t.”

Ed O’Keefe talks to Washington Post’s investigative reporter James Grimaldi, who is working from Alaska, about documents showing that Gov. Sarah Palin billed Alaska taxpayers for travel expenses for her and her family.

Leighow said that the governor’s staff has tallied the travel expenses charged by Murkowski’s wife: $35,675 in 2006, $43,659 in 2005, $13,607 in 2004 and $29,608 in 2003. Associates of Murkowski said the former governor was moose hunting and could not be reached to comment.

In the past, per diem claims by Alaska state officials have carried political risks. In 1988, the head of the state Commerce Department was pilloried for collecting a per diem charge of $50 while staying in his Anchorage home, according to local news accounts. The commissioner, the late Tony Smith, resigned amid a series of controversies.

“It was quite the little scandal,” said Tony Knowles, the Democratic governor from 1994 to 2000. “I gave a direction to all my commissioners if they were ever in their house, whether it was Juneau or elsewhere, they were not to get a per diem because, clearly, it is and it looks like a scam — you pay yourself to live at home,” he said.

Knowles, whose children were school-age at the start of his first term, said that his wife sometimes accompanied him to conferences overseas but that he could “count on one hand” the number of times his children accompanied him.

“And the policy was not to reimburse for family travel on commercial airlines, because there is no direct public benefit to schlepping kids around the state,” he said. The rules were articulated by Mike Nizich, then director of administrative services in the governor’s office, said Knowles and an aide to another former governor, Walter Hickel.

Nizich is now Palin’s chief of staff. He did not return a phone call seeking comment. The rules governing family travel on state-owned aircraft appear less clear. Knowles said he operated under the understanding that immediate family could accompany the governor without charge.

But during the Murkowski years, that practice was questioned, and the state attorney general’s office produced an opinion saying laws then in effect required reimbursement for spousal travel.

Research editor Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.

In WMD Report, U.S. Gets a C

In WMD Report, U.S. Gets a C
Group of Ex-Officials Says Terrorism Threat Remains Real

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 9, 2008;

Seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government has made only limited progress toward preventing a catastrophic nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil and combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction abroad, according to a report card to be issued tomorrow by 22 former U.S. officials.

The bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America gave the United States an overall grade of C. The government received in total three D’s, eight C’s and seven B’s in areas such as sustaining support of foreign scientists and governments, integrating programs to prevent nuclear terrorism and strengthening multilateral law enforcement efforts.

The group urged the next president to appoint a cabinet-level White House coordinator with the authority to direct counterproliferation plans, programs and funding “from day one.” The panel was co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton (D), former congressman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and Warren Rudman (R), former senator and co-chairman of a 2001 blue-ribbon commission on terrorism.

“The threat of a new major terrorist attack on the United States is still very real,” Hamilton, Rudman and former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean (R), chairman of the 9/11 Commission, wrote in the report’s introduction. A nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists was “the single greatest threat to our nation,” they said, and concluded, “We are still dangerously vulnerable.”

The report marks the latest effort by former leaders of the commission and other national security experts to re-focus efforts to counter weapons-of-mass-destruction threats after years of bureaucratic drift. In a similar report card issued in 2005, the Sept. 11 panel’s successor gave U.S. counterproliferation efforts a D.

The partnership’s advisory board includes several 9/11 Commission members; national security advisers to Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton; and former senior lawmakers and officials whose service stretches back to the Kennedy administration.

The report comes as the Democratic-controlled Congress has established a panel to expand U.S. and international programs designed to counter use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists.

Former Clinton State Department official Wendy R. Sherman, a member of the congressional panel, called the partnership’s report a “helpful and useful tool.”

“Our report will deepen both the assessment of the threat today and what we can do about it,” Sherman said. The group is scheduled to issue its report by November.

The partnership’s report card makes three main recommendations: The government should appoint a White House adviser with power to make funding decisions for counterproliferation programs, coordinate all such government programs under a strategic plan and strengthen international cooperation.

“We can no longer afford to hope that our patchwork of programs and initiatives will naturally cohere into an effective whole,” according to the report, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post. “The United States cannot be safe working alone.”

The government earned its highest marks for interdicting nuclear weapons and materials abroad, destroying half the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile and restricting access to bioterrorism agents in former Soviet states.

But the group said there has been little progress integrating piecemeal nuclear terrorism programs or sustaining long-term support from foreign governments. It sharply criticized disengagement from multilateral efforts such as the Biological Weapons Convention.

“Globalization, privatization, rapid transportation, instant communications” are spreading proliferation capabilities to developing states and private entities around the world, said Brian D. Finlay, co-director of the Cooperative Nonproliferation Program at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.

Finlay noted how the focus of U.S. counterproliferation experts has expanded beyond advanced industrial states to countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia and Burma, and even tiny states that permit foreign-owned ships to fly their flags, such as Barbados. “You look at the ability of some of these countries . . . to prevent proliferation, and it’s nonexistent,” he said.

Attorney General says there are “deficiencies” in Yucca application

Attorney General says there are “deficiencies” in Yucca application

Posted: var wn_last_ed_date = getLEDate(“Sept 9, 2008 6:46 PM EST”); document.write(wn_last_ed_date);Sep 9, 2008 04:46 PM

Updated: var wn_last_ed_date = getLEDate(“Sept 9, 2008 6:46 PM EST”); document.write(wn_last_ed_date);Sep 9, 2008 04:46 PM

Vowing pursuit of legal avenues to block the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump project, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said there were deficiencies in a project application set for review.

She was reacting Tuesday after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it would docket the project’s construction application from the U.S. Department of Energy. The state’s chief law enforcement officer expressed disappointment but wasn’t surprised. The NRC gave the application the green light Monday for a review that could take four years.

The attorney general said the review was going forward despite the state’s contention it was legally deficient. “The NRC has reached this decision despite the glaring absence of a final radiation protection standard and a repository (project) design,” she said.

She called the NRC decision a formality and said her legal team would explore possible ways to stop the dump.

“Following an in-depth analysis and discussion of Nevada’s strategic options, Nevada will continue to pursue all viable options to defeat the ill-conceived Yucca Mountain project,” Cortez Masto said.

No Nuke Loan Guarantees!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Send Letter to the Editor: No Nuke Loan Guarantees!
Category: News and Politics

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September 9, 2008

Dear Sustainable Energy Activist:

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on the “Gang of 10” proposal to encourage new offshore oil drilling. As we explained in the Alert we sent last week, this proposal also includes billions of dollars in support for the nuclear power industry, including unlimited taxpayer loan guarantees for new atomic reactors.

We have not yet seen the actual legislative language in this proposal, so it may change somewhat by the time it reaches the Senate floor. However, we can’t wait that long to begin acting. NIRS and other national groups will be setting up a National Call Congress Day next week, and we’ll let you know which day, and the latest news we can as soon as we can.

In the meantime, below is a sample Letter to the Editor you can use for your local newspapers, blogs, and other media outlets. Feel free to use it as is (though put in the names of your Senators!) or adapt it any way you’d like, or write something completely different. But do send in something! We obviously can’t wait for the mainstream media to realize on its own that this proposal would be a huge boon for the nuclear industry—and a huge boondoggle for the taxpayer. Let’s get the word out now about this proposal and just how dangerous it is!

And please e-mail us a note (to about where your letter has been submitted and whether it is published.

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte

Executive Director

Nuclear Information and Resource Service;


Dear Editor,

We’ve all heard by now the “Drill baby, Drill” approach some members of Congress are taking to sensibly-banned offshore oil drilling in this election year. It now appears that the U.S. Senate next week will consider a proposal from the so-called “Gang of 10” to allow some new offshore drilling.

What hasn’t been well-reported is that the Gang of 10 proposal would do much more than lift a ban on oil drilling. In fact, their proposal would force taxpayers to put billions of their hard-earned dollars at risk on behalf of the nuclear power industry. Instead of keeping the current cap of about $20 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear construction, this proposal would make such loan guarantees unlimited—placing hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money at risk of the same type of default and construction mismanagement that plagued the nuclear industry 20 years ago. And, with construction cost estimates for new reactors skyrocketing (they currently range from $7 to $12 Billion for a single reactor, according to Wall Street analysts), it wouldn’t be long before our electric rates begin soaring as well.

Senators  blank and blank should vote against the Gang of 10 proposal. We need a forward-looking energy policy that leads us to a clean, cost-effective carbon-free, nuclear-free future, not more radioactive waste, nuclear accidents, and a return to the failed energy approaches of the 1970s.