Sunday, December 28, 2008
In this time of economic crisis when government services and programs are threatened, we Nevadans should take a page from President-elect Obama's playbook of “change” and come up with some creative changes of our own. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate our resistance to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
At this time there are 120 storage sites scattered around the nation containing thousands of tons of radioactive waste. This waste poses a serious environmental and security threat to the nation. In a move of cooperation and support, we could help the Obama administration by changing our policy against the dump.
However, in exchange for our decision we could negotiate for financial benefits to the state.
Of course, there would be increased construction activity at Yucca Mountain, but that would not commence until 2013 when licensing is approved. In the meantime, Obama wants to develop major new sources of alternative energy in our country, so how about accepting government grants to our university system to establish a new College of Alternative Energy? And what better place is there than Nevada to build government- subsidized solar energy plants and wind energy farms?
Perhaps the new college could work on new ways to permanently eliminate the radioactive waste, eventually doing away with the need for the dump at all.
Of course, a much-improved railway must be built to allow safe transit of waste across our lands to Yucca Mountain.
That could be a huge public works project that would vastly improve our state’s economy. Certainly Sen. Harry Reid, perhaps the most powerful Democrat in the nation next to Obama himself, can think of a hundred ways to help the incoming president stimulate the nation’s economy from within the borders of Nevada.
While we are thinking creatively, perhaps the federal government, in exchange for Nevada’s new cooperative attitude, could return to the state some of the 84.5 percent of the land within our borders that it owns (of the 110,567 square miles of land in Nevada, the federal government owns 93,429 square miles).
Some of that land close to urban areas could then be sold or used in positive ways to everyone’s benefit. Other land, now being leased by the federal government to mining and ranching concerns, could instead bring revenue into the state’s coffers.
I believe Obama is right.
Change has come. Let’s make sure it is good change.