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Presidential and nuclear waste politics presented Nevada voters Monday with some crosswinds to contemplate.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to review an application from the Energy Department to build the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, a review process it said could take four years. Though routine, it put the issue back on the front burner briefly/
The presidential campaigns of Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain soon put their spin on this expected bureaucratic regulatory step.
The Obama camp attacked President Bush for proceeding and tied McCain to the administration. The McCain camp said the NRC decision was just a step in the process and added the GOP nominee supports nuclear waste transport and storage when safe.
Normal crosswinds in a political year, but then came an unrelated statement issued by Sen. John Ensign, R-NV. Ensign, who opposes the dump, said Nevadans do as well. It was just a routine release, not related to the presidential race, but showed a potential McCain problem in what could prove a swing state.
“There can be no question that the citizens of Nevada are opposed to Yucca Mountain,” Ensign said, adding the congressional delegation is fighting hard to block the idea. He called the NRC decision “merely a formality” and expressed confidence “the red flags for this proposal will become even more apparent” during the review process.
Ensign isn’t just any senator; he is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial (campaign) Committee and, in the Senate, serves on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
So his statement might prove a discordant note for the McCain camp, which acknowledged Yucca Mountain is an issue but also noted in some ways it represents a national security matter.
“It’s a national security issue in a larger sense,” said Rick Gorka, regional spokesman for the McCain campaign.
Gorka — whose role encompasses the states of Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii — said nuclear power reduces reliance on foreign oil. He said waste storage in one spot – if safe and secure – is better than in hundreds of places.
Asked if he thought the Obama campaign would try to make hay out of the NRC decision and Yucca Mountain coming into the news again, he replied: “I think the other side can make hay out of anything, regardless of the facts.”
The Nevada Obama camp statement came from Kirsten Searer.
“The Bush administration is continuing to pursue the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump despite the mounting scientific evidence that it is not safe for the people of Nevada,” she said, adding: “John McCain backs the dangerous Bush plan…”
Filed under: 2008 Elections, enivornment, Indigenous, nuclear, Nuclear Waste, The Real Truth, Yucca Mountain | Tagged: McCain, molehill, Mountain, Nuke dump debate | 1 Comment »