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September 23, 2014

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UPDATED: Nevada political roundup: Berkley circulates article

Updated at 5:02 p.m.

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley circulated a note to her colleagues on the Hill today directing their attention to a BusinessWeek article on nuclear power's "tangled economics."

The article explores Sen. John McCain's proposal to build 45 nuclear reactors by 2030 -- and a total of 100 new plants overall beyond that.

“It is safe, it is proven and it is essential to America’s energy future,” McCain said of nuclear power during a campaign stop in Las Vegas last month.

As BusinessWeek notes, it is also expensive:

"Two years ago, the price of a 1,500-megawatt reactor was pegged at $2 billion to $3 billion. Now it's up to $7 billion and rising, as the cost of concrete, steel, and other materials and labor soars."

In fact, the piece says, development won't happen without hefty government subsides. All of this has experts saying the nuclear "renaissance" envisioned by the Bush administration and supported by McCain will be "slow to flower."

For his part, Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, doesn't rule nuclear off the table but says government resources should be directed toward wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy. Nuclear, he has said, is not a viable alternative unless the concerns about storing the waste safely are resolved.

From BusinessWeek:

"I'm not quite sure the number McCain put out is obtainable," says Adrian Heymer, senior director for new plant deployment at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm. "If there are any hiccups in coming in on time or on budget, it will be a struggle to go much beyond the first eight or 10 plants."

As for the waste issue:

Exelon CEO John W. Rowe adds that the industry can't grow until the government solves the waste problem, either by opening a proposed storage site in Nevada, or by setting up surface storage facilities around the country. And in the long run, to cut the amount of waste, he says, "it's very clear that we've got to have a fuel-recycling technology."

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Originally posted at 1:17 p.m.

-- During a stop in the Valley on Tuesday, Gov. Jim Gibbons used the opportunity to say the claim that he used his position to get a discount on his taxes in Elko County was "baseless," according to a story in today's Review-Journal.

The governor's comments come after the executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission. The complaint charges that Gibbons got a tax break on land he owns in northern Nevada that he shouldn't have received.

-- In related news, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports that a Nevada Tax Commission member targeted with an ethics complaint for his role in helping Gov. Jim Gibbons secure the property tax break called the allegations "ludicrous." John E. Marvel told the Gazette-Journal the complaint filed by the Nevada Democratic Party against him and Gibbons is without merit.

"There is no basis for it," he said. "I was acting as an attorney for two clients in connection with a real estate transaction. My job as an attorney has absolutely no rational basis or connection with respect to my position on the tax commission."

-- In case you missed it, the Sun reported yesterday afternoon that Rep. Dean Heller has developed a strategy similar to his attitude toward gold mining in his mostly northern Nevada district: Drill where there’s oil, not where it’s politically polite. Heller is joining fellow Republicans in their push to lift the decades-old ban on off-shore drilling.

-- Heller also was featured in a story about tax liens on Politico.com. According to the article: "Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller, who overcame challenges from the anti-tax Club for Growth during his own primary campaign last cycle, has paid a total of $717.88 for 12 separate late tax payments on his property in Carson City, Nev., according to the office of the recorder of deeds there."

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