Thank Reid for death of Yucca
March 7, 2010 - 12:00 am
To the editor:
For more than a quarter of a century, Nevadans have been fighting the ill-conceived nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. The nuclear energy lobby and its supporters repeatedly told Nevadans to give up the fight because the dump is “inevitable.”
But Nevada hung tough, and recently we received the news that the great majority of Nevadans had long waited to hear — the federal government is abandoning the Yucca Mountain Project. The president’s new budget contains no funding for further development, and last week the Department of Energy filed a motion to withdraw its application to license Yucca Mountain. To be sure — we will need to be vigilant and follow through — but the end is in sight.
Many Nevadans — Republicans and Democrats alike — have played key roles in the fight against Yucca. As a newly elected governor in the 1980s, and with my Republican Attorney General, Brian McKay, by my side, we began the fight. It was Sen. Harry Reid, however, as the majority leader in the U.S. Senate, who persuaded President Obama to eliminate funding for Yucca Mountain and abandon the project. He deserves the credit for ultimately driving a silver stake into the heart of the project.
There are many Nevadans who do not support all of Sen. Reid’s legislative proposals. As his friend for more than 40 years and his former colleague in the U.S. Senate for a decade, I would be among them. As the election season heats up, I hear some Nevadans asking what Sen. Reid has done for Nevada. Some wonder what Nevada gains because of Sen. Reid’s role as majority leader.
Well, Yucca Mountain is a classic case in point. It does not denigrate the role of our congressional delegation and others who have been part of the fight for decades to point out that the power Sen. Reid wields as the majority leader was the key.
Having escaped the nuclear bullet on Yucca, I am now hearing a troubling new proposal: Let’s be the host state for nuclear reprocessing. Embracing reprocessing is like jumping out of the nuclear frying pan and into the fire. Our concerns about transportation-related accidents or terrorist activities apply to shipment of high-level waste to Nevada for reprocessing as well. At the end of the reprocessing cycle, there is still high-level nuclear waste. If it’s already here in our state, the slippery slope effect would inevitably lead to the argument, “Well, if Nevada accepts some nuclear waste shipments to the state and is prepared to store some nuclear waste, doesn’t it make sense for Nevada to take it all?”
We need to be careful what we ask for: We might get it.
Richard H. Bryan
The writer, a Democrat, served as Nevada’s governor from 1983-1989 and as one of the state’s two U.S. senators from 1989-2001.