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Opinion: Pro-Yucca, anti-gaming fanatic speaks for Nevada GOP



By Phoebe Sweet

nevdemparty-300x61-7665245-4590232LAS VEGAS–In a feeble attempt to distract from President Barack Obama’s visit to Nevada, the state GOP is trotting out anti-gaming, pro-Yucca Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The Nevada Republican Party has once again shown how out of touch it is with ordinary Nevadans, bringing someone who so clearly stands for everything Nevadans are against and against everything Nevadans are for. Pawlenty thinks gaming is “destructive” and favors “permanent storage (of nuclear waste) at Yucca Mountain.”

In 2002 Pawlenty told the Minnesota Pioneer Press that Yucca should be fast-tracked to be complete by 2007, in order to accept nuclear waste from his home state.

And in 2003 he opposed gaming in Minnesota, saying it was a “sad commentary” for government to turn to gaming for revenue, and said gambling had a “negative impact on people’s lives.”

This hypocrisy is typical of Nevada Republicans, who stood by silently while George W. Bush blacklisted Las Vegas for government travel and rigged their 2008 nominating convention to pave the way for John McCain, one of Yucca Mountain’s most outspoken supporters.

So, after leveling ridiculous attacks at Pres. Obama for supposedly hurting our tourism economy with one comment, will Republicans stand by Tim Pawlenty’s long record of anti-gaming and pro-Yucca rhetoric?

“The fact that Nevada Republicans are relying on Tim Pawlenty–an anti-gaming fanatic who wants to ship dangerous nuclear waste from his home state to our backyard–to be their mouthpiece proves they just don’t get it,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director from the Nevada State Democratic Party. “This is a classic example of Republican hypocrisy, and Nevadans should be outraged that the state GOP thinks Tim Pawlenty represents their interests.”

Additional information

Pawlenty hoped nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain would be completed before Prairie Island nuclear waste site in Minnesota reached capacity. “They seemed, for a time, to differ on one issue–whether they would enforce a 1994 law that limits the storage of nuclear waste at the Prairie Island power plant in Red Wing. Sullivan said he would not enforce the law if it meant the power plant would close. Pawlenty said that he favored holding the power plant to current limits, but that he hopes a federal nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada will be completed before Prairie Island reaches capacity. By law, the site can store 17 nuclear waste casks. In interviews after the debate, both Pawlenty and Sullivan said that if Yucca Mountain is not in operation when Prairie Island’s 17 casks are filled, they would allow the power plant to continue generating electricity. Xcel Energy, owner of the Prairie Island plant, expects the 17 casks to provide storage until 2007.” [St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/30/02]

Pawlenty wanted to “transition to a permanent storage at Yucca Mountain or to a private arrangement in Nevada” for Minnesota’s nuclear waste. In October 2002, the Associated Press asked Pawlenty, “If Xcel Energy came to you as governor asking you to reconsider its deal on storing Prairie Island nuclear waste, what would you say to them? How would you address nuclear waste concerns?” Pawlenty responded, “Under certain circumstances, yes, and those circumstances would be if we have no other way to produce power in Minnesota, and the choice is turn the lights down or keeping Prairie Island open a little while longer, I would keep Prairie Island open a little while longer. … We need to make sure we maintain a reliable and economic source of energy in Minnesota, and as we transition to a permanent storage at Yucca Mountain or to a private arrangement in Nevada, I think it is, there may be a time where Prairie Island needs to stay open before those permanent sites are available. And I’d be willing to consider that under certain conditions.” [AP, 10/27/02]

Pawlenty said gambling was “destructive” and had a “negative impact on people’s lives.” The Associated Press reported in March 2003, “‘It’s money mania,’ Pawlenty said last week of the bundle of gambling bills introduced so far. ‘These are creative ways but maybe inappropriate ways to get more money into the state’s coffers. I understand that motive, but expanding gambling is not a good way to do it.’” In April 2003, the Associated Press reported that “big obstacles still stand in the way of expanded gambling in Minnesota, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said he’d likely veto a casino bill. ‘If we need money, there’s lots of ways for government to get it that are not as destructive,’ Pawlenty, a Republican, said in a recent interview. ‘If the only objective is to get money, then why don’t we have a government Wal-Mart or a government Target or a government Wendy’s? They all would make money for the government and they would have less negative impact on people’s lives.’” [AP, 3/21/03; 4/26/03]

Pawlenty claimed that “a high percentage of the revenues derives from gambling come from people who are addicted to it.” In a 2003 interview with the editorial page editor of the Pioneer Press, Pawlenty said of a proposed “racino” (casino at a racetrack) slot plan, “The door is not shut completely, but I don’t like the idea for a variety of reasons. It is not a proper function of government to be running casinos. A high percentage of the revenues derived from gambling come from people who are addicted to it. It is a sad commentary to turn to those revenue sources for government funding.” [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 5/4/03]

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