Las Vegas Sun

November 25, 2017

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2008 Elections

Bill Richardson on Yucca Mountain


(Editor's Note: Richardson dropped out of the presidential race for the Democratic nomination after finishing fourth place twice, with 2 percent of the delegate in the Iowa caucus and 5 percent of the delegate in the New Hampshire primary. Read an explanation on his campaign Web site.)

Since October, 2007, Richardson has fallen under scrutiny for his 20-year relationship with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository proposal. A Denver Post article in October 2007 reported that while Richardson was in Congress, he voted for the "Screw Nevada bill" in 1987 that coupled defense and health care measures into the narrowing of possible nuclear waste dump sites from three to one - the one being Yucca Mountain. But on the local television show, "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" in October, 2007, Richardson claimed that while serving as energy secretary for the Clinton administration, he fought on the side of Nevada regarding Yucca Mountain, and ensured that the government's decision to dump nuclear waste on Nevada's mountain would be purely scientific instead of political. During his campaign, Richardson has said that he would not open Yucca Mountain up, but instead he would use the site for research to help solve the nuclear waste problem, and on the Las Vegas CNN Democratic Presidential debates in November, Richardson reaffirmed this position. Perhaps where Richardson finds himself under the most scrutiny is his Democratic Presidential campaign's anti-Yucca Mountain stance versus what critics say was his blatant refusal to halt or delay the process while he had the means.


CNN video: Richardson speaks about Yucca Mountain during the CNN presidential debate Nov. 15, 2007.


(Note: The Sun asked top tier Democratic candidates this question in October). All Democratic candidates oppose Yucca Mountain, but what’s your solution to solving the waste issue — and what’s your stance on nuclear power?

Richardson's response: I will not open Yucca Mountain. The solution to the waste issue is technological. I would assign our national labs to come up with a technological solution to safely dispose of this waste. There’s gotta be a way. We’re one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. I don’t discard nuclear energy altogether, but until the waste issue is resolved it certainly shouldn’t be given the enormous subsidies it has. The future is in renewables.


— Las Vegas Sun new media intern Jenna Kohler, new media managing editor Dave Toplikar and political reporters Michael J. Mishak and J. Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.

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