Yucca Mountain

As one of a handful of states the two presidential candidates have determined could decide the election this year, Nevada has seen a steady stream of visits by the two men vying for the White House.

But while some political observers predicted Nevada’s battleground status would translate into greater attention to Nevada issues, both U.S. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have mostly stuck to national hot topics when stumping here.

“I would have expected to have more discussion on the issues of Lake Tahoe, Yucca Mountain, grazing and mining laws, and that we would be looking at Western themes like where does our water come from, how do we manage growth,” said Fred Lokken, a political scientist at Truckee Meadows Community College. “But I don’t see any of those issues really.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, some argue. Nevada voters tend to decide their presidential preference based on national issues anyway, polls suggest.

Still, the Silver State has had some impact on the national dialogue. Because Nevada has long been the national leader in the rate of foreclosures, both candidates have talked about the foreclosure crisis in the state long before it reached a national breaking point on Wall Street.

Both also have talked fairly extensively about Yucca Mountain and are aiming rhetoric on immigration at the state’s Hispanic constituency.

Here is a look at where each stand on some of the issues important to Nevada voters:

Although polls indicate the nuclear waste repository isn’t at the top of voters minds when they make their decision, it’s a deeply unpopular project that presidential candidates usually address when they’re in the state.

Barack Obama: Obama hasn’t had to vote on the Yucca Mountain project during his tenure in the U.S. Senate. He opposes the project but says nuclear energy should remain an option in dealing with energy independence. Has opposed the temporary storage of nuclear waste in his home state of Illinois and has been supported by nuclear power companies there. He supports developing better technology for storing waste at the reactor sites.

John McCain: McCain has long been an advocate for the Yucca Mountain project. His energy platform relies on building 45 new nuclear power plants before 2030. While he’s said he believes the best way to deal with nuclear waste is to store it, he has talked about reprocessing and pursuing an international repository as well. He said communities near Yucca Mountain should be given a proprietary interest in the waste in order to benefit from reprocessing it when the technology becomes available.



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