Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2015

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We must demand clear answer from Romney on Yucca Mountain

You don’t say!

It is no secret that our elections — especially presidential elections — have become contests in which what candidates don’t say is at least as important as what they do tell the voters. Long ago the electorate, through a fault most of its own making, gave up the expectation that politicians seeking high office would tell the truth.

The reasoning was simple: If we are told the truth, we won’t vote for the truth teller. If we are told something less than what is factual, we tend to vote for that person and then complain later when what we thought we were told doesn’t mesh with what the fellow we elected does.

That continues the vicious circle of lies, votes and more lies, and that results in the public having an ever-decreasing opinion of the political class, which is forced to tell us less of what we need to know in order to win the votes of people who have become completely disenchanted with the whole thing.

Unfortunately, while all this games-playing is going on, real problems need to be addressed, real challenges must be met and real people and their lives hang in the balance of whatever our democracy prescribes. In short, there will come a time when the people will just say “no” to anything and anyone asking for a vote. That includes those who deserve our vote as well as those who don’t. Guess who wins when that happens?

So, what can we do while this political circus is getting sorted out? One thing we must do is pay attention as best we can because there are consequences to our actions and to our failures to act as good citizens.

Take the case of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Nevada’s deeply held belief that the country’s high-level nuclear waste should not be buried just a few tens of miles from the tourist mecca that is Las Vegas. And what about the rest of the country? It has a very valid fear of all that toxic waste being trucked and trained through major cities across the country on its way to Southern Nevada, waiting, just waiting, for the inevitable accident. Such an accident would not only devastate the area where it occurred but also it would change the face of the nuclear power industry and the way the rest of the country views nuclear power and its waste.

Nevadans have expected and continue to expect our federal and state representatives to stand up against the rest of the country’s efforts to shove that deadly waste down our Yucca Mountain. It is based on the science that says Yucca isn’t the right answer and on an overwhelming public sense of betrayal for the way Yucca Mountain got started in the first place.

Starting with candidate George W. Bush in 2000, we have asked the very simple question: Are you for or against burying the nation’s nuclear garbage in Yucca Mountain in the face of Nevada’s desire not to let that happen?

It is no secret that candidate Bush lied to our faces when he assured us that science would prevail. As soon as he became president with the critical support of the Silver State, politics prevailed and Yucca became the only place for the government’s efforts to bury tens of thousands of tons of the most toxic waste known to man.

Nevadans learned from that double-cross. We learned that what a candidate says in Nevada needs to be consistent with what he says in another part of the country. And, more to the point, what he says here and what he doesn’t say anywhere else!

This past week South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told her constituents that one of the main reasons she supports the Romney was because of his stance on Yucca Mountain. She indicated that they see eye-to-eye on what to do with South Carolina’s nuclear waste. Did I mention that Haley is an ardent supporter of dumping the nuclear waste in Nevada’s backyard?

What Nevadans have heard from Mitt is that we should be able to say whether we want the nation’s high-level garbage to be buried here, where 40 million people come each year to enjoy themselves.

As the Republican primary effort moves westward — with either Mitt the presumptive nominee or Nevada’s vote the final nail in the political coffins of the rest of the field — we should be adamant in our demands that Mitt make his position clear.

There is plenty of reason for Nevadans to be afraid that what Haley says is Romney’s position on Yucca Mountain. We heard the same kind of confusion when George Bush was asking for our votes and we didn’t demand to hear the truth from him.

This time, let’s be clear. It isn’t just what Romney says to us that matters. It is what he doesn’t say. So far, he hasn’t said he disagrees with Haley one bit.

Tell us it ain’t so, Mitt.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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