STATE OF NEVADA
OFFICE OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
LORRAINE T. HUNT
January 10, 2002
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
Dear Mr. Secretary;
It is with great sadness that I write this letter to you in response to your January 10, 2002 correspondence informing me that you have made the decision to recommend approval of the Yucca Mountain Site as a nuclear waste repository.
Truly this is a dark day for Nevada, and it has become so with your blessing.
I will not waste any more time revisiting all of the scientific data that has been debated ad nauseum by politicians, government officials and the news media. Scientific data, which both supports and refutes your "belief that the science behind this project is sound and the site is technically suitable..."
I would ask at what time did the people of the state of Nevada cease to be important to the federal government? Exactly when did state's rights -- recognized as critical to our existence and guaranteed by our forefathers -- cease to exist?
Las Vegas is no longer a dusty and isolated small community. It is now a valley of almost two million people with 36 million annual visitors. Las Vegas is an international tourism destination and we are well on our way to being a global hub of business. With Yucca Mountain only 100 miles from the Las Vegas Valley the potential for a disastrous incident is profound.
There are two critical points. which I must raise in regard to your letter:
First, why should Nevada take the rest of the nation's nuclear waste when we do not produce any waste in our state? Nevada has no nuclear power plants, and thus produces no nuclear waste. We have worked hard to avoid the use of nuclear energy by developing alternative energy sources using wind, solar, geothermal and biomass technologies.
Nevada has instead chosen the aggressive path of alternative energy research and development to meet the needs of our citizens and protect our environment. This dynamic, cutting-edge, 21st century technology could someday benefit Nevada, the nation and the world.
Is our reward for this unprecedented effort to be forced to become the nation's nuclear waste dump? I believe this is truly unfathomable.
Second, you express a desire to protect the nation's environment and ensure national safety by centralizing all nuclear waste in Nevada. How is that possible when the waste will travel through 43 states to reach Nevada?
Residents in Main Street, U.S.A., Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and many more states will sit in diners having breakfast each day somewhere in the heartland and watch a train or truckload of nuclear waste rumble by them. In light of the September 11 attacks on our nation, is the American public willing to accept high-level radioactive waste rolling through our cities and across our plains?
Our world has changed since September 11. It would be irresponsible and literally criminal to subject our citizens to the potential threat of a high-level nuclear waste incident anywhere in the United States. We must proceed with a new understanding of security in America.
And finally, as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Nevada, I am the lead official for economic development and tourism in our state. For the past three years my staff and I have worked diligently to increase tourism, to bring new business to Nevada to diversity our economy and to make Nevada a viable location for the film and television industry.
With one pronouncement you have placed doubt, fear. and trepidation on our accomplishments and the future of our state.
In closing, I pledge to you that I join with Governor Kenny Guinn, the Nevada Congressional Delegation, and my fellow Nevadans to continue this fight until the last option is exhausted.
We will not and should not go quietly into the night without a fight.