LETTERS: Nevada citizens lose out if state takes over more federal land

To the editor:

The Nevada Legislature is entertaining a number of proposals to transfer federal lands to the state or vastly diminish the amount of national lands, waters, minerals and other resources we now enjoy as both residents of Nevada and as citizens of this great country. If these proposals are taken to their logical conclusion, the end result would be as predictable as it would be preposterous. Access to our lands to hunt, fish, rock hound, hike and camp would be severely limited, and where we could still enjoy our great outdoors, it would be very pricey.

The Nevada Land Management Task Force created by Assembly Bill 227 studied the implications of transferring Nevada’s national lands from the federal government to the state. Surprisingly, the report concludes that the state could generate significant net revenue if most of the lands now managed by the Bureau of Land Management were owned by the state. However, the report’s own numbers do not support that conclusion. The report states that in fiscal 2012, the BLM generated about $46 million in revenue and had expenses of about $108 million in Nevada. I don’t care whether you use old or new math, that means that there was a deficit of $62 million.

Right now, all Americans contribute to funding the costs to manage these lands and resources, not just Nevadans.

Even scarier is that fact that the report did not include the costs associated with wildfire. The legislative proposals look to transfer not only BLM lands, but also lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. These agencies’ wildfire-related costs in Nevada run a staggering $90 million in a single year.

How would the state generate revenue to pay for these expenses? The report makes it very clear, so there is no need to guess: Selling and developing the land is the No. 1 source of revenue identified.

By law, the state has to have a balanced budget. So where the BLM runs a $60 million annual deficit managing our lands for multiple uses, including public access and recreation, the state would need to aggressively sell, develop, charge user fees and probably raise taxes if it were to take over federal lands.

I don’t see how the average Nevada citizen comes out ahead under this scenario. Do you?

ROBERT GAUDET

LAS VEGAS

Robert Gaudet is president of the Nevada Wildlife Federation.

Weary of Reid

To the editor:

Now that Sen. Harry Reid has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2016, a lot of people will have opinions and reasons why he decided not to run. I believe the reason is because he knows he can’t win another election in this state. The people of Nevada are really tired of his brand of politics, and I’m confident he would have been voted out of office.

Had the GOP nominated a worthy candidate in 2010, he would already be gone. I truly believe Sen. Reid could not stand the humiliation and embarrassment of losing, and that is why he decided to retire and not seek re-election.

TIM HICKS

LAS VEGAS

Reid’s departure overdue

To the editor:

Sen. Harry Reid destroyed the U.S. Senate’s reputation as the greatest deliberative body in the world. He blocked from consideration and discussion hundreds of bills passed by the House of Representatives, just to protect an incompetent president.

Sen. Reid’s departure is long overdue, and hopefully the Senate will return to its rightful place as a beacon of democracy. His legacy is not what the founders had in mind. Goodbye, Harry. Nevada will survive.

JERRY HIGGINS

SPARKS

Yucca Mountain proposal

To the editor:

Regarding reaction to the future of Yucca Mountain (“Yucca plan jolts Nevadans,” March 23 Review-Journal), Rep. Cresent Hardy put in his two cents, looking for a conversation. I believe he is suggesting we Nevadans calm down, take the high road and look at this objectively. Fine.

Within all that is written about Yucca Mountain, you can hardly find any objective thinking about it. I would like to get the ball rolling for Rep. Hardy. Working with highly rounded numbers, here are the facts.

There are more than 170,000 metric tons (187,000 U.S. tons) of nuclear waste scattered around the country, most of it east of the Mississippi. When you add in the container that would be built for transport and storage, for argument’s sake, let’s say that weight drives up the load by 15 percent, for a total weight of around 225,000 tons.

A rail car can carry 50 tons, so the transportation logistic would be for 4,500 rail cars of this waste. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. My 15 percent number could be way low because no one has yet perfected the container that would be used to transport the waste. This container is expected to hermetically contain the waste forever. The hole in Yucca has not been engineered to protect the containers from groundwater. The digging of this hole has been done without having a final solution about the encasement of the hole or the containers being used.

On the other end of this, our government has licensed nuclear power facilities and allowed them to run, burning these fuel rods without ever setting a requirement that they make a plan for what to do with the spent ones. Illinois Rep. John Shimkus is sitting on 9,000 metric tons, and his idea for fixing this is to schedule a second trip to Nevada to look in the hole again.

Politics aside, this subject is about capability. Elected officials who dare to resurrect Yucca without providing solutions to the above problems are simply not smart enough to be involved in this process. OK, Rep. Hardy, back to you.

JIM CASSIDY

HENDERSON

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