weather icon Partly Cloudy

Political battle over Yucca Mountain hits Washington Post

The renewed political fight about storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain has spilled over to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, one of the nation’s most politically influential newspapers.

One of the people joining the fray is Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen, who has long advocated for Yucca Mountain as a source of revenue for the county, where the site is located.

On Feb. 8, the Washington Post Editorial Board released an opinion piece “Back to Yucca Mountain,” called “Nevadans’ intense opposition to the Yucca project is unreasonable, unambiguously harmful to the country and should end.”

The newspaper cited the Nuclear Regulatory Commission report released in January stating the site could be safe to store nuclear waste.

“In a rational world, the NRC’s report would result in Nevadans backing down, Congress restoring funding and the Obama administration pushing Yucca along,” the editorial board wrote.

The editorial comes as Republican leaders in Congress are starting to openly discuss Yucca Mountain as the nation’s waste repository again, nearly six years after President Barack Obama pulled funding.

The opinion piece prompted a scathing rebuttal published by the Washington Post from Gov. Brian Sandoval, as well as U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Harry Reid.

The letter attacked the newspaper’s editorial “grossly trivialized Nevada’s valid technical concerns” while “overstating” the report’s findings. The letter argues that the continued focus on Yucca Mountain as a solution only moves the “nation further away from a real solution.”

“With its inaccurate arguments, the editorial epitomized the arrogance of a federal government effort to force a nuclear waste repository on an unwilling state,” said the Sandoval/Heller/Reid letter. “Nevada’s resistance to the Yucca Mountain repository is based on legitimate concerns for the safety of our citizens and the environment. The project has not proved to be safe or even workable.”

The letter referred to Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future report in 2012 that recommended, in part, that nuclear waste facilities should only be in states that give their consent.

While the state’s governor and two U.S. senators argued on behalf of the state, Schinhofen made it clear in the Washington Post that Nye and other rural counties hold a different opinion.

The county commissioner pointed to resolutions passed by nine of Nevada’s 17 counties calling for completion of the project’s license review process.

We appreciate the (Washington Post) editorial, which we hope will stimulate a discussion based on science and the law and not on fear-mongering,” said Schinhofen, adding that “those of us who live closest to the site have conducted our own studies about the aspects of safety” of the Yucca Mountain repository, and those “findings agree with the unbiased professionals … that the repository can be built and operated safely.”

Unswayed by a Republican-led Congress showing increased interest in discussing reviving the Yucca Mountain project, Sandoval, Heller and Reid said the state’s leaders remain united against any revival.

“Together, we will continue to fight Yucca Mountain at the state and federal levels,” according to their letter. “This is not a partisan issue; this is a Nevada issue. Nevadans will not be swayed by a D.C. newspaper’s editorial board. It is time that we all recognize that Yucca Mountain is an unworkable and unsafe option and look toward responsibly and scientifically securing our energy future.”

Schinhofen’s letter stated that those three are not speaking for everyone in Nevada.

“Many Nevadans who support Yucca Mountain look forward to being heard,” Schinhofen said.

More than $15 billion in federal funding has been used in researching and developing Yucca Mountain. Obama ended the project’s funding after being elected in 2008, pushed by then Senate Majority Leader Reid, who helped swing Nevada during the presidential election.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
FEMA vaccination clinic shifts to Beatty

Hundreds of Nye County residents braved warm temperatures in order to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations in Pahrump on Thursday.

WGU unveils Essential Workers Scholarship

Western Governors University Nevada announced Wednesday a new scholarship program for essential workers seeking degrees in high-demand career fields including business, teaching, information technology and health professions, such as nursing.

Hospice symposium to focus on equity in end-of-life care

Nathan Adelson Hospice will host its 17th annual Multicultural Symposium virtually beginning at 1 p.m. April 14 with a variety of topics addressing equity in end-of-life care.

State’s tax amnesty period ends May 1 for businesses

There is less than one month left of Nevada’s Tax Amnesty program that began Feb. 1. Business entities that have unpaid tax debt can file/pay their taxes online or download the missing tax returns that are available on the Department of Taxation’s website https://tax.nv.gov/

Fleeing man arrested at gunpoint in Pahrump

One man was arrested and taken into custody following a disturbance at Bank of America just after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 6.

Nye County votes to fully reopen, sidestep mask mandate

On Tuesday, April 6, the Nye County Commission, after several hours of public comment and debate, voted 5-0 to approve fully reopening Nye County and its businesses, and to essentially do away with the mask mandate.

Letters to the Editor

Good, bad, and ugly are present in today’s society

Overnight oatmeal is power packed for pennies

When it comes to cheap eats it doesn’t get more frugal and fabulous than oatmeal. It’s a whole grain, packed with fiber and nutrients, the taste is compatible with endless variations, and costs mere pennies per serving. Are you sold yet? How about this: you can literally make it while your sleep. Does that appeal to your inner multi-tasker? Yup. Mine, too.

Drive-thru Senior Fair set at Inspirations in Pahrump

Pahrump Valley seniors should mark their calendars for Saturday, April 17 when they will have a chance to head out to the Drive-Thru Senior Fair at Inspirations Senior Living Center, where there will be a plethora of organizations gathered for an event intended to help educate the older population about the area’s many valuable resources.

Pahrump’s Community Easter Curbside hailed as huge hit

At 10 a.m. on a bright and sunny Saturday morning, a line of vehicles started forming at the NyE Communities Coalition and suddenly it was go-time for the dozens of volunteers on hand for this year’s Community Easter Curbside Pick-up Event.