Editorial: Loux resisting D.C. puppetmasters

Curious how the strings from Washington, D.C., stretch all the way to even the most remote of states, such as Nevada.

Inspect your cars for emissions, or forsake your federal highway dollars. Teach what we want in your schools, or forget about federal education dollars. Adopt our health and safety standards, or we won't give you ... well, we don't give you any money anyway, unless you're building a sewage-treatment plant.

So it isn't too surprising that the nuclear industry's pals on Capitol Hill would like to be able to handpick the director of Nevada's Nuclear Projects Agency. What is surprising, though, is that Sen. Harry Reid, D.-Nev., would even entertain the idea.

The director of the state's Nuclear Projects Agency is Bob Loux. His job is to keep track of the federal Department of Energy's work in trying to move the nation's nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.

When Loux thinks the DOE is doing shaky work or not telling the whole story, he is not shy about disagreeing with the feds and providing evidence to back up his point of view.

The funny thing about Loux's agency is that it is funded partly by the federal government - kind of like paying the mouse to keep an eye on the cat.

That's where the strings come in. Last year, the agency got about $500,000 in federal dollars. Reid says it might have received $5 million, but that Republicans on the Appropriations Committee don't like Loux.

So Reid suggested maybe Loux should go. The idea was quickly shot down by Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Republican, and by Reid's fellow Democratic senator, Richard Bryan.

It's true that Loux has been a bit overenthusiastic at times in his job. The feds made Nevada give back money they argued was being used to raise political opposition to Yucca Mountain, rather than to conduct "technical oversight" of the DOE's scientific data. (As if the federal government is above spending our tax dollars to influence our opinions.)

Reid raised it as a dollars-and-cents issue, even though he said he likes Loux. "I think he's doing a good job, but the Republican majority doesn't like him."

Well, we like him too. As long as Washington is trying to pull the strings, we prefer to have Loux on our end rather than a puppet.


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