Let’s stop looking backward and start moving Nevada forward.
In the 1980s, over the strong objection of Nevada’s leadership, Congress selected Nevada as the repository site for nuclear waste. Here we are 25 years and $15 billion later, still fighting the same battle. Our leaders need to start thinking about a new vision for Yucca.
Sen. Harry Reid, along with President Obama and the rest of the Nevada delegation in Washington, D.C., are not only stuck in the last century, but are on the wrong side of the Constitution. The Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this month that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “flouted the law” by using “questionable maneuvers aimed at preventing the Yucca Site from ever opening.” In their report the justices stated “it is no overstatement to say that our Constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law.”
Congress had demanded that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission complete and publish a review of the Yucca license application, including a safety evaluation. Not surprisingly, Reid’s ex-staff member and handpicked director of the commission, Gregory Jazcko, halted the licensing process, removed findings from the unpublished report and re-assigned staffers, all without a peep of objection from the White House. In Reid’s words, “Yucca is dead.”
Sorry, senator; Yucca is not dead. Your backroom political power tactics of stall, defund and intimidate have run out of gas. You cannot suppress the truth any longer.
Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Sandoval and his Nevada Nuclear Project Agency plan to spend $5 million of federal and state money to continue the fight against Yucca. What a waste. They should direct their efforts toward a new vision of Yucca that will help Nevada create a new industry and create thousands of high-paying jobs.
The $5 million they plan to spend fighting Yucca should be funding meetings with leading folks in the nuclear technology arena: Babcock and Wilcox, Westinghouse, and Bill Gates. These people are on the leading edge of new nuclear processes: pebble bed reactors, molten salt reactors and small modular reactors.
They should use these funds to sit down with congressional leaders in Washington and nuclear operators nationwide to hammer out a financial and technical solution that’s good for Nevada. Above all, they should be pushing hard for the completion of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s report buried by Reid and his minions.
Given the right kind of leadership by Sandoval, Reid and Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada can become a world-class research laboratory and design center and, potentially, the manufacturing center for these new technologies.
In the ’80s, Nevada’s leaders might have been justified in their anger over being selected as the nation’s nuclear dump. They should ask themselves how we Nevadans can use this $15 billion asset to build a 21st century Nuclear Research and Development campus at Yucca. Nye County likes Yucca. Our universities would jump at the chance to participate. Congress would work with Nevada to make it happen. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy, has suggested diverting “5.6 billion dollars to Nevada” instead of spending it looking for a new site.
With enlightened 21st century leadership, Nevada can become a world leader in innovative, clean and safe nuclear power.
Doug Bradshaw lives in Gardnerville with his wife, Nancy. He graduated from Princeton University and sits on the boards of two consumer products companies.