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Nuke decision should cost Bush a state

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

By Nevada Appeal editorial board

Democrats have one issue on which they can make hay when President Bush visits Nevada, and that issue is nuclear storage at Yucca Mountain.

So the comments from legislators and ex-governor Bob Miller and the protests on Tuesday during Bush’s stop in Las Vegas came as no surprise. The question is, will the accusations stick with voters when they get to the ballot box in November 2004?

The accusation is that Bush broke his promise to Nevadans when he said he would base his decision on “sound science.” Al Gore’s promise wasn’t much different, but as it turned out Bush is the president who gave the go-ahead to dumping 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste from 43 states into Nevada’s back yard, based on some dubious scientific extrapolations.

It’s a legacy that ought to make Nevadans angry, especially after they helped put him in the White House.

Whether it’s an overriding issue for most of the state’s voters, however, will remain to be seen. With most of the Democratic base in Clark County, closer to the nuclear dump site, we suspect it could cost Bush the state’s electoral votes – depending on who is his opponent.

But it’s not a national issue. Despite pleas from Nevadans such as Speaker Richard Perkins, who made the argument as part of the Democrats’ weekly radio address, the routes all that waste will take across America aren’t registering on many radar screens. (Probably, in large part, because we still don’t know where the routes will be.)

Somewhere behind the war on terrorism, the economy, Medicare and a hundred other issues lies Nevada’s lonely protest against nuclear-waste storage. It makes a difference only here.