Nuclear dump lobby takes aim at Nevada

Nuclear dump lobby takes aim at Nevada

Sun, Sep 21, 2008 (2 a.m.)

— The director of the Nevada office charged with fighting the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump has gotten himself into hot water. Bob Loux is facing serious punishment — or even dismissal — after admitting to lawmakers he gave unauthorized raises to himself and his staff.

There is no question that what happened under his watch deserves a swift response and that he must be held accountable for his actions.

As a state personnel matter, his fate now properly rests with the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, an independent agency that has long been the state’s watchdog over the Yucca Mountain project.

But treachery is already afoot. In the days since the Loux story became public, pro-dump lobbyists in Nevada and Washington have been working to use Loux’s troubles as a tool to undermine Nevada’s long-standing opposition to Yucca Mountain. Efforts are already under way to seize on these events in hope of destroying the commission, which remains one of our first lines of defense against the dump.

The longtime chairman of the commission is none other than former U.S. Sen. and Nevada Gov. Richard Bryan. No one has been more rock-ribbed in fighting the dump. He knows the issue inside and out and is energized by a powerful passion to stop Yucca Mountain to protect generations of Nevadans who would be at risk from this dangerous scheme.

Dismantling the commission he heads, or radically altering its powers, will only further invigorate the pro-dump lobbyists and gut Nevada’s ability to continue the battle against our home’s being turned into a graveyard for toxic radioactive remains.

Nevadans must speak up to be sure the commission remains strong, effective and independent. It must retain its authority to recommend a committed and knowledgeable director for the state’s Yucca Mountain watchdog office when Loux’s tenure comes to an end.

The nuclear industry’s intention is to tar and feather not only Loux, but also Nevada’s entire campaign to stop Yucca Mountain. Although Loux’s name has long been atop the pro-dump enemies list, what the nuke lobby wants most is to discredit Nevada’s anti-dump cause.

Emboldened by recent events, nuclear industry lobbyists have revived the old lie that if Nevada would just roll over and accept the dump, the feds would magically send billions of dollars our way.

The truth has always been that no nuclear waste fairy will suddenly appear with a pile of cash for all in the Silver State to share. But make no mistake — there will be thousands of deadly radioactive shipments on our roads and railways and a mountain of toxic nuclear waste if pro-Yucca Mountain forces succeed.

Meanwhile, these pro-Yucca forces are looking for help from two Republican lawmakers who have already proposed getting rid of our Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, which was established to keep lobbyists and partisanship out of the state’s oversight of the Yucca Mountain Project.

With these nuclear industry lobbyists awakened, on the prowl, and lining up political allies, Nevadans must be alert and carefully follow events in Carson City at this critical time. We must continue to demand that the independent Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects remains in charge of the state’s Yucca Mountain watchdog mission.

I have news for the nuclear industry: Nevada is our home and it will never be for sale as a nuclear dump. That is why I challenge every Nevada elected official to fight industry-backed efforts to defang the office of Nevada’s nuclear watchdog or to water down the role of the appointed commissioners who help guide the fight to protect the health and safety of our families and our communities, and the future of Nevada’s economy.

Shelley Berkley, a Democrat in the U.S. House, represents Nevada’s 1st Congressional District.

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Categories enivornment, Indigenous, nuclear, Nuclear Waste, Yucca MountainTags , ,

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