State still has $4 million of original Yucca Mountain budget | NevadaAppeal.com

State still has $4 million of original Yucca Mountain budget

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Staff Writer

There’s still more than $4 million in the state’s anti-Yucca Mountain fund — $1.7 million of it uncommitted.

But Nuclear Projects Director Bob Loux says it’s not nearly enough for the national advertising campaign needed to help stop the U.S. Senate from approving the dump site.

The 2001 Legislature put $4 million into the Fund to Protect Nevada, inviting another $1.25 million in contributions from business, local governments and anyone else interested in trying to stop a federal decision to store high level nuclear waste in the mountain 70 miles north of Las Vegas.

Several resorts and more than one local government, including Las Vegas, have agreed to contribute.

Altogether, the state has more than $5 million in the budget account but, as of Friday, only $1.23 million had been spent.

Loux said most of the money is already committed. He said the state has a contract with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Egan & Associates and a $1 million contract with Mark Brown & Partners to handle public relations. In addition, the state has a supplemental legal contract with Antonio Rossman of San Francisco for about $300,000.

Recommended Stories For You

Those commitments, he said, leave only about $1.7 million uncommitted. The state needs far more for the advertising and public relations campaign Loux hopes will help Nevada’s congressional delegation win 51 votes to stop approval of Yucca Mountain, he said.

“We’re looking at needing significantly more, primarily for advertising,” he said, pointing out that the nuclear power industry has said it will have a total of up to $30 million to spend pushing its side of the argument.

“If we want to be effective in this arena, compete with them, we’re going to need money,” he said.

While Loux said how much is budgeted is up to the governor and the Legislature, “clearly we could spend everything we can get our hands on.”

He said the original Fund to Protect Nevada proposed by Gov. Kenny Guinn and approved by the 2001 Legislature was designed primarily to cover legal fees, not advertising.

Guinn says he supports putting up to $10 million into the fight from the state’s “rainy day” fund. And while he said he’s considering a special legislative session to approve the funding, he’s not completely convinced.

Loux said the money would be used primarily in TV and other ads in states where Nevada’s congressional delegation has a chance to pick up a vote or two opposing the dump plan.

One of the keys Nevada is focusing on is the dangers inherent in transporting high level nuclear waste through those states en route to Yucca Mountain.

In addition to the dangers of an accident, Loux says the traveling canisters of waste are a ripe target for terrorists who could devastate an urban area by destroying one of them.

Guinn says he will exercise his veto of President Bush’s approval of the dump by April 16. Then the issue will move to Congress, which can override the veto by a simple majority.