Farmer Column: A nuclear waste dump by any other name

Diehard proponents of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump think they can revive this dying project by rebranding it with another, more sophisticated name - the Nevada Energy Park. This is like calling a big, and very expensive, new library a "knowledge and discovery center." I'm not buying that one, either.

The Reno Gazette-Journal ran a spurious poll this month purporting to show majority support for a highly toxic nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. This illustrates how clever advocates can manipulate public opinion by wording their questions to produce the desired outcome. Instead of asking respondents whether they wanted to turn Nevada into the nation's nuclear dumping ground, Yucca Mountain proponents asked whether we'd like to convert the Southern Nevada site into a "research park" and collect millions of federal dollars in return.

Golly, gee whiz, let's go for the money.

That purposefully misleading pitch reminds me of when friends of ex-President Bill Clinton (FOBs) were allegedly dragging hundred-dollar bills through trailer parks in search of nubile young ladies who wanted to become White House interns. In that disgusting case, which led to the president's impeachment, it wasn't the wording of the proposition; it was the money.

Well, let's take a closer look at that multimillion-dollar pot of gold that Yucca Mountain proponents are promising to deliver to the Silver State. Former governor and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, a Democrat who heads our nuclear projects advisory commission, thinks the federal money is a myth.

"That (money) is utterly false," he said recently. "There never has been any money promised us in terms of real money out there. The industry itself has never offered anything, nor has the federal government."

Fortunately, bipartisan opposition to the proposed waste dump remains strong. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a leading Democrat, and his Republican counterpart, Carson City's own Dean Heller, remain unalterably opposed to the project, as do Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat.

After some pro-Yucca rumblings from Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, and Nye County officials, Gov. Sandoval told Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a letter: "There should be no uncertainty or misunderstanding of my position. ... The state of Nevada does not support the location of any such site within the state and will oppose any attempt to resurrect the defunct Yucca Mountain project."

Attorney General Cortez Masto weighed in with an opinion that should put the matter to rest.

"The (RG-J) poll presents a choice that omits facts essential to an understanding of why the state must stay the course against both the proposed repository and a nuclear 'research park' premised on the disingenuous notion that nuclear waste can be transformed into a source of revenue," she wrote. "There are no guaranteed monetary benefits, (and) the proposed 'research park' presents serious risks to the public."

Conclusion: We should continue our firm, bipartisan opposition to the Yucca Mountain project. Nuclear research park? No thanks!

• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has consistently opposed the Yucca Mountain project.


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