BOSTON - Sen. Harry Reid brought the issue of a planned nuclear waste dump in Southern Nevada to the national stage Wednesday, telling the Democratic National Convention that Sen. John Kerry would kill the Yucca Mountain project if he becomes president.
"We agree that Nevada should be a proving ground for renewable energy, not a dumping ground for nuclear waste," Reid told thousands of delegates inside the Fleet Center. "That's why when John Kerry is elected President he will stop wasting billions of dollars trying to dump nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain."
The Bush administration and Congress picked the site in 2002 to hold the waste now stored at military sites and commercial nuclear reactors across the country. The planned repository would be located in a volcanic ridge 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Reid's speech coincided with a defense by Kerry's Nevada communications director, Sean Smith, of Kerry's record on the waste dump. Smith said Republicans are distorting Kerry's record of long-standing opposition to the project, adding, "The fact is, it's George Bush who has pledged to deliver the nation's nuclear waste to Nevada."
"Sen. Reid has been a fighter, has been a leader from the very beginning and used the opportunity as a national leader in the Democratic Party to remind Americans why this issue is important to them and not just Nevada," said delegate Steven Horsford, Nevada's national Democratic committeeman.
Reid is the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, serving as minority whip. He was first elected to the Senate in 1986.
In his 7-minute speech, Reid criticized President Bush, likening his promises to create millions of jobs and to cut prescription drug costs as "fool's gold."
Reid also evoked the down-home values of rural Nevada.
"I was born and raised in a rural mining town called Searchlight, Nevada," Reid said. "My mom and dad lived through the Great Depression. Those hard times taught them that people need to help their neighbors."
Although Kerry, D-Mass., and his running mate Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., came from different parts of the country, Reid said they learned the same values.
"We all learned about the importance and dignity of hard work. That's why John Kerry will create millions of good jobs," Reid said. "We all believe that education opens the door of opportunity. That's why John Kerry will make our schools better, so every child can get a quality education."