Friday, September 26, 2008

The Great Nuclear Debate: Yucca Mountain

Here in Nevada, we have this big 500 pound gorilla in the room anytime anyone campaigns for anything 'round here from dog catcher to President of the United States. It's called Yucca Mountain. The thing is, Yucca Mountain is a site Congress has mandated be studied as a potential site to store high-level radioactive waste. You know, the stuff that comes out of reactors, or dismantled nuclear bombs. Yucca Mountain is a long, flattish, non-descript mountain near Beatty, Nevada, about 90 miles NW of Las Vegas. Part of it sits right on the Nevada Test Site, where, fittingly enough, a lot of the atomic bombs that weren't dismantled were instead blown up. I worked for seven years there. Great job for catching rats, if you don't mind a horrendous commute. The short of it is, Congress said this will happen, Nevada said no it won't, and ever since it's been political death to Nevada politicians to ever suggest Yucca Mountain is a good idea.

That is, unless you're running for President of the United States. Bush won Nevada by something like 21,000 votes in 2000, despite his overt support of Yucca Mountain. If Yucca Mountain is *so* important to Nevadans, then how in the hell did he get our four (now five) electoral votes? If just a few thousand Nevadans had simply paid attention, Al Gore would be president, and the world would be a very different place.

This election, I'm hearing similar misinformation. "I don't want to vote for Obama because he's for nuclear power, so he's going to ream us with Yucca Mountain." And, by default, that means that McCain will come riding in on his white horse and save Nevada from the doom of radiation. Go McCain!

Wrong, folks. Stop being spoon-fed convenient stereotypes and look at the facts.

Obama is for nuclear power. Yes, that's right, he is. I'm not all that comfortable with that either, particularly because of the waste issue. However, he is for nuclear power ONLY if a safe alternative to Yucca Mountain can be found.

Here's a link to his letter to Sens. Reid and Boxer on the matter, which ends with the quote:

"....we should select a repository location through a process that develops national consensus and respects state sovereignty, not one in which the federal government cuts off debate and forces one state to accept nuclear waste from other states. The flawed process by which Yucca Mountain was selected now manifests itself as a profoundly expensive endeavor of monumental proportion.

In short, the selection of Yucca Mountain has failed, the time for debate on this site is over, and it is time to start exploring new alternatives for safe, long-term solutions based on sound science. "

In contrast, John McCain has been a consistent supporter of Yucca Mountain . He was quoted in December, 2007 as saying,

A key way to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, he said, would be to increase the use of nuclear power.

When asked after the forum how he proposed to dispose of high level nuclear waste, McCain said, "My preference is that we store it. I always thought that Yucca Mountain was the right place to do it."

It's not a problem of technology. It's a problem of political will. We have now the worst of all worlds, because we have nuclear waste sites around every nuclear power plant in America , which provides us with the greatest challenge to our security," he said. "So I would try and resolve it and I would try to go back and revisit the Yucca Mountain issue, but I would do everything in my power to resolve it." "

Within the past week, George Bush. citing about 30 objections including cuts to Yucca Mountain funding, threatened to veto a defense spending bill that would have reduced funds to the Yucca Mountain budget by $50 million dollars, accepting an amendment in the House that returned $25 million to the budget. The bill has yet to face the Senate, so I do not know how McCain, or Obama for that matter, would have voted on the previous version. However, considering their diametrically opposed views on Yucca Mountain , I would think McCain, as he usually does, would have voted with White House views to increase the funding in the bill, and Obama would have objected to returning funds to Yucca Mountain .

So, in conclusion, McCain: For nuclear power and for Yucca Mountain . Obama: For nuclear power only if we can find a safe alternative to Yucca Mountain .

Disclaimer: I, personally, think Yucca Mountain is a good, safe choice as a repository site. Then again, I worked on the project for seven years, so that has greatly effected my opinion. I agree with Obama that it is a political disaster, however, and has been handled with greatest disdain for a sovereign state.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Well, if I have to break silence

I will on this very happy note. After mere days short of two years of a beaurocratic nightmare, Erinberry and her family have finally made it through PGN and are approved to adopt their little girl A.

Those who are lucky get to become parents. And those who are luckier still get to have a set of parents like John and Erin.

I can't wait to hear you're home, A.

Progressive Women's Blog Ring
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