Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2019

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Sun Editorial:

Congressman’s claims about Yucca Mountain nothing but rubbish

Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who came to prominence by yelling “You lie!” at the president, recently chided his party’s presidential candidates for backing away from the federal plans to store nuclear waste in Nevada during their Las Vegas debate.

In a piece published Saturday in the Chronicle in Augusta, Ga., a town near his South Carolina district, Wilson urged voters in his state, which holds a presidential primary early next year, to press the candidates on the issue and made a number of specious claims to try to rally support for the failed project.

Like many dump supporters over the years, he has misrepresented the facts and missed the point. Yucca Mountain is a disastrous plan fiscally, scientifically and environmentally. It was conceived out of politics, not science, and it has been a money pit that has consumed billions of dollars with nothing to show for it but a hole in the ground. The plans would, over the next several decades, send thousands of tons of nuclear waste through the nation’s communities, past schools and over waterways, exposing generations of Americans to the possibility of nuclear accidents. And then the waste would be shoved in Yucca Mountain, which isn’t a mountain but a porous, volcanic ridge in an area prone to earthquakes.

Whatever could go wrong?

Unfortunately, there are people like Wilson who spin a fantasy about the plans, claiming they are safe and even saying that Yucca Mountain has the support of “local communities in Nevada” and would provide thousands of jobs.

Please. A majority of Nevadans are against the dump and have stood firm against it for years. We haven’t seen any evidence that there would be many jobs, but if there were any economic benefit it would be outweighed by the danger the dump poses. And those dump supporters in Nevada who argue the state should negotiate for compensation should pay attention to Wilson’s comments: He’s against such a plan and even chided former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for suggesting compensation “as though jobs and investment in the state of Nevada are not enough.”

In other words, take the nuclear waste and enjoy it.

Wilson’s arguments are ludicrous and insulting. For example:

• He says without Yucca Mountain the nuclear power industry can’t continue to build plants, but that’s not true. There are safe and cost-effective ways to store waste on site that plants are already using.

• He complained that President Barack Obama’s decision to end the Yucca Mountain, project “condemns” South Carolina and other states to store the waste that was generated in them. However, he has no problem condemning Nevada, which has no nuclear power plants, unlike South Carolina.

• Wilson has tried to position himself as a champion of states’ rights, yet he supports Yucca Mountain. The federal government and Congress have tried to force Nevada to take the waste for years over the state’s objections. So why isn’t Wilson concerned about trampling of the 10th Amendment and Nevada’s rights?

The bottom line is that the Yucca Mountain project is a terrible project that can’t withstand any serious scrutiny. Supporters like Wilson have made many disingenuous arguments that have made them look hypocritical.

If it is such a good deal, why doesn’t South Carolina take it?

Because it’s a bad plan at every level.


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