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[cdn-nucl-l] Poll: Most favor negotiations on `inevitable' dump & YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Panel adds millions for project
Posted in the Las Vegas Review Journal on July 9 & 10, 2003 and at:
Two recent articles on Yucca Mountain.
Poll: Most favor negotiations on `inevitable' dump
Nuclear Energy Institute conducted survey
By JANE ANN MORRISON
There is increasing belief among Nevadans that Yucca Mountain will
eventually be home to the nation's nuclear waste and that it's time for the
state's politicians to seek benefits in exchange, according to a new poll
conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute.
The poll by the lobbying arm of the nuclear energy industry showed that 88
percent of those asked believe the repository will be built.
Half of those said it "probably" will be built in Nevada, and the other half
said it's "inevitable" that Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las
Vegas, will host the repository.
The poll also found support for negotiating for benefits, a position still
strongly opposed by the state's political leaders.
Seventy-six percent of those polled said political leaders should begin
dealing with the federal government, a surge from prior polls, including
those commissioned by the Review-Journal.
In 1990, a Review-Journal poll showed that only 23 percent wanted to deal;
by January 2002, that figure had risen to 33 percent.
But six months after the January 2002 poll, after the Senate voted to store
nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, 43 percent favored negotiations.
The Review-Journal's 1990 poll found 52 percent of respondents felt the
facility would end up at Yucca Mountain "no matter what the scientific
In January 2002, that figure had increased to 68 percent.
Former Nevada Gov. Robert List, now a lobbyist for the NEI, said the results
are not a signal that Nevadans "like or want waste at Yucca Mountain, but a
reluctant acknowledgement that it's probably coming, and we ought to make
the best of it."
Two steadfast opponents of a repository, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Robert
Loux, director of the Nevada Nuclear Projects Agency, rejected both the
poll's results and the idea that the repository is a done deal.
"The fact is, the dump is not inevitable," said Reid, a notorious skeptic of
Since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Reid said, Americans "are not
going to allow this stuff to be shipped."
Loux is confident the state's opposition to the federal effort to place the
repository in Nevada will succeed either in the courts or in the licensing
Loux questioned the credibility of the NEI poll, saying it is "wishful
thinking on their part and nothing more."
The poll of 680 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8
percentage points and was conducted June 9 through June 15 by Voter/Consumer
Research from Washington, D.C.
List credited the change in attitude regarding inevitability to the
congressional failures of Yucca Mountain opponents.
President Bush on July 23 signed into law a resolution overturning Nevada's
veto and designating Yucca Mountain as the site for nuclear waste storage.
"The huge zenith of public attention on the subject has also waned from one
year ago," said List, a Republican governor from 1979 through 1983.
List hopes that the new poll results will soften the resistance of some
elected officials, particularly legislators, and they will consider
negotiating for benefits.
Nevada's congressional delegation, as well as Gov. Kenny Guinn, have
steadfastly opposed that approach and the state has lawsuits pending
challenging the Yucca Mountain Project.
Loux said the lawsuits will be argued Oct. 3 at the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the District of Columbia, and a decision is expected in January.
List said most elected officials have "probably sensed" the change in public
He declined to name names, but said "there are a lot of legislators,
veterans and newcomers, who feel Nevada should begin to negotiate. This (the
poll) makes it easier for them to commence that, and not get tarred and
List called it "a tragedy" that Nevada hasn't asked for significant
benefits. The budget woes lawmakers are now grappling with could have been
resolved if the state had asked for benefits earlier, he added.
Few lawmakers have publicly supported negotiations. Exceptions include State
Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, and Sen. Ray Shaffer, R-North Las Vegas.
However, Loux did say he thought there might be "one or two of the Assembly
conservatives who might be in that camp as well."
Reid, who just spent a week at his Searchlight home over the Fourth of July
holiday, said fewer people are talking to him about nuclear waste.
He recalled just one person during the Searchlight Fourth of July parade
bringing up the topic. More people express concerns about employment,
education issues and health care, Reid said.
"It's always amazing to me that the nuclear power industry is so convinced
of this dump happening," Reid said. "Now they run a poll saying it's
inevitable. If it's inevitable, why hire List and why run the poll?"
YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Panel adds millions for project
Nuclear waste facility gets boost
By STEVE TETREAULT
STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- The Energy Department's financially struggling effort to bury
nuclear waste in Nevada got a boost Tuesday when a congressional panel
outlined a 2004 spending plan that adds millions to the project's coffers.
The $765 million being set aside for the Yucca Mountain Project in the U.S.
House is 29 percent more than President Bush requested. It restores $134
million cut last year and adds even more to begin work on segments that have
been shelved for lack of funding.
"My top DOE priority is Yucca Mountain," said Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, who
wrote the legislation as chairman of the energy and water appropriations
subcommittee. "The money is here to make the program work."
The repository budget must be passed by the House and then by the Senate
before becoming final. Tuesday's action sets in motion a new confrontation
with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the program's leading critic in Congress who
has engineered budget cuts in past years.
"Yucca Mountain may be a priority for House Republicans, but Senator Reid
will use his leadership to significantly cut back that number just as he has
done in the past," spokeswoman Tessa Hafen said.
Energy Department officials have found an enthusiastic ally in Hobson, 66, a
seven-term Republican from Springfield, Ohio, who this year became chairman
of the House energy and water subcommittee.
Hobson convened his 13-member panel Tuesday to review and approve a 2004
spending bill totalling $21.7 billion for programs operated by the Energy
Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and smaller agencies.
Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations
Committee, said Democrats probably will support the bill.
Hobson said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "changed everything."
Until a Yucca repository opens, nuclear waste will remain scattered and
vulnerable at reactor sites around the country, he said.
"This is not just an energy issue. This is a homeland security issue," he
To illustrate his commitment, Hobson said he planned to enlarge and frame a
photo of Yucca Mountain and hang it on the wall alongside pictures of dams
and other projects his panel supports.
Hobson said the $765 million set aside would enable the Energy Department to
meet a December 2004 goal to complete a repository license application and
remain on a path to open a repository 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas by
Further, he said, it will allow the department next year to begin developing
a Nevada railroad corridor to the repository, a waste transfer station
within the state and other features for waste acceptance at Yucca Mountain.
DOE officials had postponed all those segments in the face of steep budget
reductions in recent years, and in fact has been planning layoffs and other
cost reductions in trying to stay on schedule.
Noting that the spending bill won't be finalized until later this year,
Allen Benson, an Energy Department spokesman in Las Vegas, issued a cautious
"We'll wait to see what the final numbers are," Benson said.
Nevadans in Congress said they were astounded at the committee's generosity.
They said the project's flaws make it unworthy of any support.
"Until the licensing process is complete, whistle-blower allegations are
settled and the lawsuits are finalized, there is no Yucca Mountain," said
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. "Why they would want to spend taxpayer money
and put it in that hole in the ground is beyond me."
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., "will certainly join with Senator Reid in reducing
that as much as humanly possible when it comes over to the Senate side,"
Ensign spokesman Jack Finn said.
Hobson said he intends to be an aggressive champion of the nuclear waste
project and plans to weigh in from his leadership position on how the
program should proceed.
For instance, the new spending bill directs DOE officials to abandon two
proposed railroad corridors that would carry nuclear waste through parts of
Southern Nevada en route to the repository, according to Hobson.
One of them would originate at a Union Pacific siding near Apex and pass
north of Las Vegas and Indian Springs before entering the southwest corner
of the Nevada Test Site. The second route would ship waste north from Jean.
A Hobson aide said DOE instead would be given 60 days to choose among one of
three remaining routes that originate at Carlin and Caliente.
Hobson said the bill contains other instructions for the Energy Department,
but he would not release a full copy until it could be reviewed by members
of the House Appropriations Committee. The committee is scheduled to take up
the measure next week.