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Opinion: For sale: One nuclear waste facility, fixer-upper

By ThisIsReno


By Chuck Muth

The Las Vegas Sun editorialized recently against Republicans in Nevada who want to find a productive use for the foreclosed-upon Yucca Mountain facility, calling them philosophical hypocrites.

“(S)ome Republicans have shown themselves to be philosophically flexible. During the campaign…Republicans claimed the health care legislation was a violation of the 10th Amendment, the ‘states’ rights’ provision in the Constitution, and they bashed proposed deals to give certain states extra money to gain their support. If they truly believe that, where’s the outrage about Yucca Mountain? How come they aren’t yelling about the 10th Amendment?”

Excellent point regarding state’s rights – one I wish more liberals would champion more often. And indeed, until a few years ago, this was exactly my argument against Yucca Mountain. Alas, the unfortunate fact is…Nevada doesn’t own Yucca Mountain. The feds do.

I wish our federal government didn’t own some 80 percent of our land, but they do. And as such, they can pretty much do whatever the heck they want with it. As long as Nevada doesn’t own Yucca Mountain, we are, alas, at the mercy of Uncle Sam, 10th Amendment or not.

The newspaper editorial concludes with this: “Nevada’s Republican Party should repudiate anyone who supports a Yucca dump. It’s not the will of the voters, and it’s not in the best interest of the state.”

Whether Yucca is in the best interest of the state or not is an editorial opinion, not a fact. We don’t know what potential offsetting benefits there might be for Nevada since we’ve never been allowed to discuss them.

As for the claim that Yucca isn’t “the will of the voters,” how do we know? Biased and misleading polls offering incomplete choices?

I mean, what if the question was, “Would you support Yucca Mountain if you would receive free electricity for the rest of your life?” Do you think the poll results might be a little different…especially in Las Vegas when it’s 105 degrees outside? I sure do.

What the Legislature really ought to do is put an objective advisory question on the ballot regarding Yucca and let the people of Nevada actually vote on it, instead of guessing the position of the citizens based on unreliable and often biased polls. Try this one on for size:

“Should Nevada continue with its no-negotiations-under-any-circumstances position with regard to Yucca Mountain or should the state be open to discussions and explore all options, with the citizens of Nevada having the final say on any proposal via a statewide referendum?”

I wonder how such an advisory question, if placed on the 2012 ballot by the Legislature, would fare. Don’t you? I mean, if Nevadans are really against it, what’s to fear from an actual vote, right?

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com.

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