Gibbons backs off on nuclear panel pick

Under pressure for appointing a Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project supporter to the anti-Yucca state Nuclear Projects Commission, Gov. Jim Gibbons on Wednesday rescinded his choice of Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley to replace vice chairwoman Michon Mackedon.

“This position on the Nuclear Project Commission requires a representative who shares the primary sentiment of Nevada’s residents and my administration’s views on the Yucca Mountain Project,” Gibbons said in a statement, accepting Eastley’s resignation before she even attended one of the commission’s meetings.

The statement refers to Eastley’s “decision to resign” but doesn’t explain why she chose to do so. Gibbons has said if he found out Eastley was a Yucca Mountain supporter he would rescind her appointment.

“It is my intention to have representation from Nye County and to ensure that this person can work with commission on our ongoing efforts to defeat the Yucca Mountain Project,” Gibbons’ statement reads.

Attempts to reach Eastley in Tonopah were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, some of Nevada’s leaders and the Democratic Party harshly criticized Gibbons’ decision to let the state engineer give the Department of Energy water for another 30 days of drilling near the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

The federal agency’s effort at the mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, has been staunchly opposed by Nevada’s elected officials. Many are saying the state is missing a chance to prevent DOE from gathering geologic information from the site that’s needed for licensing the project’s above-ground facilities.

“I don’t understand the logic,” said Richard Bryan, a former governor and U.S. senator who chairs the Nuclear Projects Commission.

Bryan said he was out of the loop in the governor’s decisions on both the Yucca water issue and his choice of Eastley for the commission.

“Nye County has been a problem for the delegation almost from the beginning,” Bryan said, prior to the governor’s reversal of selecting Eastley to fill the seat of Mackedon, a long-time opponent of the Yucca Mountain Project. Mackedon’s term ended June 30.

“I don’t know where she stands, but Nye County and Lincoln County have been thorns in the side of the delegation’s opposition to the dump,” Bryan said.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he, too, was scratching his head about Gibbons’ approval of cutting DOE some slack on water use at Yucca Mountain for another month, even though the use for drilling is not in the state’s interest.

Ensign said he wasn’t consulted by the governor after State Engineer Tracy Taylor first ordered DOE to stop using the state’s water for bore-hole drilling on June 1. Taylor lifted the cease-and-desist order 12 days later while he mulled letting DOE continue its deliberate, unauthorized use of the water until mid-August.

“The lawyers I have on my staff say it doesn’t make sense to them,” Ensign said. “We are trying to figure it out. I don’t understand it.”

Ensign said he had not spoken with Gibbons, but would do so.

“We are trying to find out why they think this would be the right policy,” Ensign said.

The state historically has taken the hardest lines against the Energy Department on Yucca Mountain matters. Ensign said a change of strategy was news to him.

He said Nevada’s handling of Yucca matters “usually is done with more coordination” between Nevada officials and the congressional delegation.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., urged Gibbons “to reverse his administration’s recent decision.”

“Denying the Department of Energy access to water for work at Yucca Mountain is one of the strongest weapons Nevada has in its fight to prevent our state from becoming a nuclear garbage dump,” Berkley said.

“The Energy Department should not be able to use one single drop of Nevada water to further President Bush’s goal of dumping toxic nuclear waste 90 minutes outside Las Vegas,” she said.

Berkley noted that Bush “is pushing Congress to pass legislation that would override Nevada’s control of its own water resources.” She said Bush “realizes that without water, there will be no nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.”

Meanwhile, the State Democratic Party pointed to Eastley’s stance on Yucca Mountain, describing her as one of the most vocal supporters of the project.

“Either Gibbons didn’t check her position or isn’t being straight with Nevadans to tell us he is stopping the dump. It’s either one or the other,” said Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.

Gibbons said Tuesday he will insist that all appointments he makes to the Nuclear Projects Commission align with the state’s long-standing anti-Yucca views.

Gibbons spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said the governor wouldn’t react to comments by Ensign and Berkley.

“We’ve already stated that we’re going to support the decision,” she said, referring to the state engineer’s decision.

Gibbons confirmed Tuesday that he backs Taylor’s letter this week to DOE, giving Yucca Mountain officials until Friday to accept the letter’s conditions. If DOE agrees, then federal scientists must stop using Nevada’s water for drilling bore holes by Aug. 15, giving DOE roughly enough time to finish 80 bore holes where water is needed to cool and lubricate bits and create mud for sample collection.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Gibbons’ decision to back the state engineer’s letter amounted to an act of surrender in the state’s decades-long fight against the Yucca Mountain Project.

“I am terribly disappointed. This is a bad day for Nevada,” Reid said Tuesday.

If DOE doesn’t accept the letter’s conditions, then after Friday “no water may be used for any bore hole drilling projects currently underway,” Taylor’s letter reads.

Not accepting the terms would make the issue ripe for legal action.

Marta Adams, Nevada’s senior deputy attorney general, has been handling the Yucca water case. She oversees the court-approved agreement on water use that Taylor accused DOE of breaching and said she is ready to enforce the state engineer’s decision.

“At this point, since the engineer has opined we will be enforcing the order, we stand ready to support it and enforce it.”

Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like