Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2019

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2008 Elections

Democrats on Yucca Mountain


(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?


Hillary Clinton I’ve been against Yucca Mountain from the beginning, and I’m working with Harry Reid to try to starve it to death. When it comes to nuclear power, I’m an agnostic. We’ve got two big problems: What to do with waste? And how do we afford to build and maintain nuclear plants? If we can deal with those two big question marks, I’m not against it. I’m just not sure it’s the most economical way to move toward renewable energy, which I think is essential to our national security, environment and economy.


Barack Obama Yucca is a bad idea. Part of what I want to do is not just look at storage options, but also look at what can we bring about through technologies. I would take $150 billion over 10 years, obtained from charging polluters, and devote most of that money to clean - energy initiatives and signifi cant research and development into more effective, safer ways of storing nuclear waste. If we can solve the problem, nuclear should be part of our energy mix. If we can’t solve it, that will cap the degree to which we can use nuclear energy.


John Edwards (dropped out) Shipping nuclear waste across the country to Yucca is a bad idea. It has to be kept and stored where it’s produced. There is no attractive alternative. That’s where we are now. The French contend they have made progress on the waste issue. We can look at that technology. In general, I’m opposed to subsidizing and building more nuclear power plants. First, they are extremely expensive. Second, it takes a long time to get a plant online. We should be making the transition to renewable energy quickly.


Bill Richardson (dropped out) 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 political reporters Michael J. Mishak and J. Patrick Coolican compiled this report.

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