Daschle says ‘whoops!"
March 22, 2002
It’s so hard to know who to trust any more.
For Nevada Republicans opposed to storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, their trust in President George Bush evaporated when he approved the site in February.
For Nevada Democrats counting on Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, their trust went up in smoke this week when he said — whoops! — he can’t block legislation from coming to the Senate floor, after all.
We guess we’ll just have to fend for ourselves, which means relying on Sens. Harry Reid, a Democrat, and John Ensign, a Republican, to muster the votes to stop the nuclear-waste plan.
At least Bush never promised he would stop the Yucca Mountain project. He only promised to make his decision based on “sound science,” and well-intentioned people can argue until the next Ice Age how much of decades of research inside the remote Southern Nevada mountain was sound or science.
On the other hand, Daschle, the Senate majority leader, flat-out declared the project “dead” as long as Democrats were in control.
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It turns out “dead” is a relative term.
He said this week he doesn’t actually have the power to keep Yucca Mountain legislation off the Senate floor. It can be fast-tracked onto the floor by any senator who so chooses.
At that point, it’s going to be Reid’s and Ensign’s jobs to come up with 51 votes. So far, the count isn’t very promising.
Meanwhile, Nevada’s politicians and business associations keep plugging away at their campaign to change the political winds by lobbying and stumping. The war chest has topped the $6 million mark, and a couple of political heavyweights — have been hired to spread the word.
Unfortunately, there are reports the nuclear industry has its own pro-Yucca fund with something like $30 million. In a shootout, Nevada has fewer bullets.
All the name-calling by Reid of Bush for being a “liar” now seems even more petty and political than when it was uttered. It would be fitting for Ensign to call a press conference overlooking Lake Tahoe for the express purpose of calling Daschle “dumb.”
But, please don’t. Grandstanding isn’t doing Nevada any good. Get in the trenches and get the votes. We really don’t want this stuff for the next 10,000 years.
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