Nevada’s delegation weighs in on Yucca vote | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada’s delegation weighs in on Yucca vote

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and John Ensign, R-Nev., joined Gov. Kenny Guinn Tuesday in promising the battle over Yucca Mountain is just beginning.

“Now the process moves to the federal courts, where the playing field is level and Nevada’s factual, scientific arguments will be heard by impartial judges,” Guinn said.

He said in federal court the nuclear power industry won’t be able to rely on its political clout.

“Now, for perhaps the first time in this process, the DOE will finally be held accountable for its many imprudent and unsound decisions and we are highly confident that Nevada will prevail,” Guinn said.

“If people think this is the last straw, that it’s all over with, they’d better think again,” Reid said. “We have just begun to fight.”

Reid said even though the only Republican senators who voted with Nevada were Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Ben Campbell of Colorado, Ensign did an excellent job lobbying his party.

“We had Republican senators until the White House stepped in,” he said. “The perfect example of that is yesterday when two Utah senators took a walk.”

Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett told Reid Monday they would be voting against Nevada because they had a promise from the White House to keep nuclear waste from going to a Goshute Tribe site in Utah.

“I told Orrin the promise you got is not worth spit,” Reid said.

Ensign said every scientific argument against the dump fell on deaf ears.

“It was as if the senators just ignored it,” he said.

He said part of the problem is “NIMBY — not in my back yard. They don’t want nuclear waste coming to their state.”

The other problem was lobbying by the Bush administration.

“There was tremendous pressure from the White House which we had not seen at this intensity until the last 10 days,” Ensign said.

Guinn said his criticism of the president and members of Congress supporting the Yucca Mountain resolution was deliberately toned down to maintain good relations with the administration.

“You try to temper everything you do with what happens in the future,” he said. “The government controls 87 percent of the land in Nevada. We’ve got to work with them and deal with them.”

They were joined in a telephone press conference by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who said simply “the deck was stacked.”

But Goodman too said the fight is far from over.

“The bottom line is we are ultimately going to prevail because we are on the right side on this one,” he said.

All three said the legal battle coming will cost but that they believe Nevadans are willing to pay the price. Reid said the state has hired one of the best law firms in the nation to handle its case.

Goodman said the danger now is fending off those who say Nevada should make a deal with the federal government.

“We’ve never made a good deal with the government,” he said. “You can’t trust Washington.”

Reid agreed: “There has never has been a way to make a deal. They’re not willing to give us a deal.”