Interim Finance approves $3 million for anti-Yucca Mountain campaign |

Interim Finance approves $3 million for anti-Yucca Mountain campaign

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Nevada lawmakers on Wednesday boosted by $3 million the state’s fund to pay for an advertising and lobbying campaign aimed at stopping nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain.

Gov. Kenny Guinn told legislators the money will be used to help sway key senators by building pressure on them from their home states. It will pay for newspaper and television coverage to tell residents in those states about the dangers of transporting radioactive waste through their towns on the way to the dump site 75 miles north of Las Vegas.

While Assembly members of the Interim Finance Committee were unanimously for the spending, the proposition squeaked by the Senate side on a 4-3 vote. The committee makes spending decisions when the full Legislature is not in session.

Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, Bill O’Donnell, R-Las Vegas, and Lawrence Jacobson, R-Minden, opposed the funding. Neal said that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants nuclear waste dumped in Nevada.

“I don’t think this is money well spent,” he said, adding he doubts the money will change anyone’s mind. Neal said the state is being forced to cut vital budgets and services because of the economic slump and the $3 million could be better used to make sure those services continue.

Senate Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also said he isn’t convinced the money will do any good.

“But if we don’t try, we’ll be charged with scuttling the effort,” he said.

Raggio did, however, add a requirement that every state dollar spent be matched by contributions from individuals, businesses or public entities. The requirement was in response to the Clark County Commission’s decision last week to withhold $3 million to battle Yucca Mountain until the state approved funding.

“If there isn’t that much support for it, our $3 million isn’t going to do much,” he said.

Guinn agreed, but said he is confident other governments and businesses will come through.