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10 things we’d take in exchange for Yucca Mountain

Harry Reid has told me — repeatedly — that Yucca Mountain is dead. It’s fenced off, shut down, closed up, an empty hole in the ground that’s the site of one of the biggest wastes of federal money in the nation’s history.

Then again, a House subcommittee was debating the issue last week, pondering whether to spend $150 million on a license application for the supposedly dead nuclear waste repository.

The usual suspects said the usual things, but one congressman’s comments stood out. Rep. Mark Amodei said that while he didn’t think Nevada should be singled out as the only place to deposit nuclear waste in the country, Nevadans should take those nuclear lemons and make some glow-in-the-dark lemonade.

“Nevadans should use this as an opportunity to dictate the terms of the repository under the best conditions for our state,” Amodei said.

Now before Reid accuses Amodei of wanting Nevada to be a big, old, ugly nuclear whore, let’s actually pause for a moment to consider what we might be able to get in exchange for playing host to Yucca Mountain. Here’s a partial list:

1. First, Southern Nevada gets to become its own state. We’ll take Clark, Nye and Lincoln counties, and we get to keep the name, too! The new state of North Nevada can keep all the other counties, which should make the residents there very happy until they realize how much Southern Nevada subsidizes their part of the state. But by then, they’ll be selling off public lands and maybe even offering us fresh, clean well water in exchange for our filthy lucre. By the way, we will build a big, beautiful wall at the new state border, only without a door in it.

2. Second, nobody who is a bona fide resident of Nevada as of July 1, 2016 ever has to pay income taxes ever again. Yes, this one is stolen from the movie “Armageddon.” But it’s a pretty good idea nonetheless.

3. Third, we get to do whatever we want with the waste. Although Yucca Mountain was supposed to be a permanent resting place for thousands of tons of nuclear waste, we’ve got some pretty bright minds at the Desert Research Institute, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nevada Test Site, now known as the Nevada National Security Site. Let’s get a reprocessing program going, so we can send reprocessed waste back to existing power plants in the form of reusable fuel rods. And we get to keep all the money we make from that enterprise.

4. Fourth, we get all the water we want and/or need from the Colorado River, no matter what the federal government has to do upstream (cloud seeding?) or downstream (desalination plants?). But since Nevada will be giving up the rights to claim North Nevada’s water as its own under the manifest destiny of the Mulroy Doctrine, we’ve got to get our juice from somewhere. Make it happen, Uncle Sugar!

5. Fifth, both major political parties must host their nominating conventions in 2020 here in Nevada. Yes, the political parties are private organizations that do not answer to the federal government. Yes, the convention location is supposed to be decided by party members looking to gain a political advantage. We don’t care about those kind of things. Do you want Yucca Mountain or not?

6. Sixth, the United States government will build to completion a new airport in the Ivanpah Valley, which will form the backbone of Nevada’s new inland port. Light rail service from the new airport to the existing one at McCarran International Airport should be included.

7. Speaking of light rail, we want one. Up and down the Strip. To downtown (the real downtown, not the mall in Summerlin!). To UNLV. To the suburbs of Henderson, Summerlin and northwest Las Vegas and East Las Vegas and Mountain’s Edge and everywhere in between. And the ridership fees will be forever subsidized by the feds.

8. Drone testing. Permanently. Because we are proving ourselves to be really good at it.

9. A real high-speed rail link to Southern California, so that their tourists and our Golden State expats can have an easier time going back and forth without those mysterious, no-reason-given traffic jams in the middle of the desert. Oh, that means expanding I-15 between Primm and Barstow to three travel lanes in each direction at least.

10. A massive, utility-scale solar power project to provide low-cost, green energy to all the homes and businesses in Nevada, so we never have to worry about running the air conditioning all day and night long to beat the summer heat.

So, federal government? What do you think? Do we have a deal? Give us a call! Operators are standing by in the soon-to-be-ex-governor’s office up in Carson City! Tell them I sent you.

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