Gaming industry steps up

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The battle against nuclear storage at Yucca Mountain so far has been fought largely by state taxpayers and by environmental organizations such as Citizens Alert.

Not any more.

This week, the Nevada casino industry pledged $600,000 to help the state lobby in Congress and challenge the nuke dump in court, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

"This has been in the making for some time," Gov. Kenny Guinn told the Sun. "Every one of (the casino executives) I've talked to has told me they're willing to step up to the plate."

The casinos are wise to concentrate their efforts on lobby and legal fronts, because Las Vegas has a tricky image problem when it comes to Yucca Mountain.

Situating the nation's nuclear waste site 90 miles from the nation's adult playground could present a real challenge for the country's best marketers. The gaming industry has too big a stake to ignore it.

Make too much of a deal about it, however, and tourists may forever associate the two.

So the money, $100,000 from the Nevada Resort Association and $500,000 from the Washington-based American Gaming Association, will go to change the minds of those who matter most now: lawmakers and judges.

"The fight now has moved to Congress and the courts, and it will require a different level of effort," said Resort Association President Bill Bible.

The gaming industry was criticized a week ago by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman for not being more involved in the campaign against Yucca Mountain.

But as long as the myth of "sound science" as the deciding factor was being kept alive, the state's watchdog agency and Citizens Alert were appropriate leaders on the ramparts.

Now that there's apparently nothing but politics standing between Nevada and 77 tons of radioactive waste, it's a good time to call on the heaviest hitters.


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