Nuclear politics and Nevada
McCain is a longtime supporter of Yucca Mountain; Obama speaks out against it
Sat, Oct 18, 2008 (2:06 a.m.)
The power a president holds over Yucca Mountain was demonstrated in February 2002, when President Bush recommended to Congress that the partially built nuclear waste storage project be completed.
Five months later Congress succumbed to his recommendation, despite Bush’s campaign promise to Nevadans that he would hold off on any Yucca decision until the project had been “deemed scientifically safe.”
No such determination has ever been made. There have been, however, many scientific reports concluding that the project — just 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas — would be very dangerous.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been instrumental in rendering the project inert. Yucca Mountain, however, still has a heartbeat. Whether that heartbeat is stilled or resuscitated depends on the next occupant of the White House.
A story this week by Las Vegas Sun reporter Phoebe Sweet reiterated the positions of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain. Their views are well worth remembering by Nevadans as they head to the polls — and early voting begins today.
On the campaign trail, McCain has been clear: He supports Yucca Mountain. He cites the billions the federal government has invested in the site and maintains it can be made safe.
Taking his cue from Bush’s “sound science” line, McCain said during a March campaign stop in Las Vegas he would “accede to whatever scientific — credible scientific — opinion is.” Richard Bryan, former Nevada governor and former U.S. senator, told Sweet, “Sound science has become, in the nuanced language of nuclear politics, a wink and a nod to say, ‘I’m all for it.’ ”
There is nothing nuanced about Obama’s position. “I am opposed to Yucca Mountain … I have consistently said that I am opposed to Yucca Mountain, and that will not change,” he said in January.
The opposing views illustrate how important the coming presidential election is for Nevadans.