Loux says government has never offered Nevada money to accept nuke dump
Nuclear Projects director Bob Loux said this week there is no truth to recent claims Nevada can get millions from the federal government for dropping its fight to block the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.
“There is no money,” he said. “There has never been any money.”
The rumor, which has surfaced periodically over the past two decades, can be traced to legislation introduced in 1987 by Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, D-La. That plan offered the state that agreed to take the dump $100 million, plus $50 million a year during construction, another $100 million once it opened and $100 million a year until it was filled with waste.
The proposal was immediately rejected by then-Congressman now Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., then-Gov. Richard Bryan and the rest of Nevada’s delegation. They said it would have thrown out all environmental safeguards and suggested the bill was simply “bait” to see if Nevada would bite.
The legislation never received a hearing and died in the Senate Energy Committee, which Johnston chaired.
“The state, if it even entertained such an idea, would completely consent to the project and be unable to enforce any health and safety regulations,” Loux said Tuesday. “And the DOE (Department of Energy) has never built any facility for radioactive materials that hasn’t leaked. Never one.”
Loux said the entire issue should be moot anyway: “We’ve got a president who has said he essentially is going to kill the project.”
Most recently, the rumor was resurrected by conservative activist Chuck Muth, who conducted a poll of area residents asking them if they would rather take millions in federal money in trade for the dump or pay higher taxes to balance the state budget.
Predictably, those contacted said they would rather not have their taxes raised by a wide margin.
“The comparisons are completely crazy,” said Loux.
He said there is no appetite in the state to accept the dump despite the results of what he termed “this phony push poll.”
Loux said studies have indicated the mere existence of the dump would have “a huge economic impact on the state even without any accidents.”
He said people moving to southern Nevada are often looking for a better quality of life as well as jobs and “a nuclear dump outside Las Vegas doesn’t fall into that category.”
Muth, who operates Citizen Outreach, said he was referring to a new amendment put forward last spring that would give Nevada hundreds of millions of dollars to accept the dump.
“There is no money because the amendment was never voted on,” he said. “But if the Senate voted and approved the amendment, there would be money.”
He said there was no vote because Reid refused to bring the amendment to the floor for a vote.
Muth said he disagrees with Loux that even considering the offer would forfeit Nevada’s rights to block the dump.
“Engaging in constructive dialog doesn’t give up your rights,” he said.
Loux, however, said he doesn’t understand why Muth and others are willing to believe the federal government would come through even if it did promise the state money.
“Here you’ve got guys who wouldn’t trust the federal government on any other issue as far as they could throw them and, yet, some how on this issue, they believe they can trust them ” which is incredible irony.”
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.