Don’t turn your back on the Feds because if you do, they’ll stab you in the back. That’s exactly what President Trump’s Energy Secretary, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, did late last year when he approved a secret shipment of a half-ton of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to Southern Nevada. Gov. Steve Sisolak is outraged, and so am I.
Perry’s surreptitious action was a sad and sneaky throwback to the infamous 1987 “Screw Nevada Bill,” which designated Nevada as the only state in the nation to receive highly toxic nuclear waste — in other words, to turn the Silver State into the nation’s nuclear waste dump. No thanks!
This stealth shipment of highly radioactive material to the Silver State proves yet again we can’t trust the Feds. By “Feds” I mean President Trump, Energy Secretary Perry and congressional Republicans, including Carson City Congressman Mark Amodei, who’s wishy-washy on the federal plan to store 77,000 tons of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
According to The Associated Press, the Energy Department (DOE) disclosed last month it had shipped weapons-grade plutonium to Nevada late last year despite a lawsuit by the state asking the Feds to block such shipments until safety and environmental risks could be reviewed. DOE secretly shipped the plutonium anyway. Early this month a federal judge denied Nevada’s request, but Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford are appealing that decision.
The Justice Department last year assured Nevada officials that no shipment would occur before February of this year, but DOE said the latest shipment was classified secret for “national security reasons.” A likely story. “NNSA (the National Nuclear Security Administration) routinely ships this type of material between its sites as part of our national security missions, and has done so safely and securely for decades,” DOE said. Do you believe those Washington-based federal bureaucrats? Me neither.
I can remember DOE bureaucrats smirking and snickering during public hearings in Carson City on the Yucca Mountain Project several years ago because they already knew the outcome of those sham hearings. They were going to turn Nevada into the nation’s nuclear waste dump. Fortunately, at that time, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and then-Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican, stood up to DOE and the high-powered nuclear energy industry to stop the Yucca Mountain Project in its tracks.
And that’s precisely what Sisolak and Nevada’s congressional delegation should do now. Sisolak promised “to fight back against the U.S. government’s ‘reckless disregard’ for the safety of Nevadans.” U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto warned the Feds against moving ahead with plans to ship nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. “The Trump administration will find that I’ll be shining a bright light on this, as well as any high-level effort to bring nuclear waste into our state by reviving Yucca Mountain,” she said. Attagirl!
For her part our newest U.S. senator, Jacky Rosen, echoed Cortez-Masto by calling out DOE for misleading “a federal court along with members of Nevada’s delegation, including our very own governor, in a deceitful and unethical move...” she said, accusing DOE of “a lack of transparency.”
I commend Sisolak, Ford and our congressional delegation for defending the best interests of our state. No toxic nuclear waste should be shipped to Nevada without approval from the governor, our congressional delegation and the people of our state. This is an important states’ rights issue for us and we should hold the line against federal efforts to shove highly radioactive waste down our throats. Hold that line. Amen.
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has opposed the Yucca Mountain Project for more than 20 years.