You know that move in professional wrestling when the referee comes flying over to slap down a three count, only to have the nearly pinned opponent kick out at the last possible second.
Yucca Mountain appears to be that wrestler kicking out after everyone was sure it was, most certainly, done for.
I imagine the soon-to-be-retired Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid being the thwarted wrestler, who seemingly had victory in his grasp, yelling at the official that the match should be over! And his tag-team partners Sen. Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval are yelling from beyond the ropes: “Yucca was pinned! Its fate has been decided! The match is over!”
The proposed nuclear repository has pushed itself off the mat, and is on one knee getting ready to stand. A little wobbly, but has more fight left.
The near pin came in 2010 when President Barack Obama pulled funding, landing a big drop-kick to the chest of Yucca. Up to that point the project had taken a series of blows, but the pulling of funding sent the weakened Yucca to the center of the ring, where it fell flat on its metaphorical face.
Reid flexed, Heller and Sandoval high-fived, and even the old veteran Richard Bryan, the former governor and U.S. senator, could be imagined nodding his approval from seats near the anti-Yucca corner.
However, the cobwebs started to clear from the opponent’s head, and Yucca Mountain has lifted itself onto one knee. Early signs of a still-too-early-to-call Yucca comeback came in November when the Republicans captured both the House and Senate in Washington D.C. Excitement and hope started circulating through Yucca’s biggest fans with seats closest to the event: Nye County officials.
Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who is chairman of the influential House Energy and Commerce environment and economy subcommittee, said back in January he was wanting a return trip to Yucca Mountain to learn more about the feasibility of the site. April 9, that trip of six House members happened, with Nevada Republican Reps. Mark Amodei and Cresent Hardy, whose district includes the Nye County, on the tour.
Shimkus pointed out that the Yucca project is too old (30 years), and has too much invested ($15 billion), to be pinned so easily. That last part isn’t exactly what he said, but it’s close enough.
Heller, apparently taunting the woozy Yucca, said the trip was “nothing more than a poorly-disguised gimmick.”
But the bruised and not-yet-beaten Yucca keeps coming.
Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House energy and water subcommittee threw a chair into the ring, dropping $200 million into an energy spending bill to help clear Yucca’s cobwebs. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who chairs that subcommittee, said there’s strong support for getting the Yucca Mountain license application finished up.”
Yucca has growing numbers in its rally corner. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have been vocal in their support. By the way, both are leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The money.
The bill includes $50 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reopen the licensing process for Yucca.
The Department of Energy would get $150 million to take part in the licensing.
And, apparently, the open arms of Nye County would receive $5 million for being the host site.
So while Titus is yelling the $5 million is “hush money to try and buy off Nevada communities,” this county already supports the endeavor. It also desperately needs the revenue. And the jobs, which brings more revenue.
Are Yucca’s opponents really screaming against job creation for a county whose unemployment is two points higher than its neighbor, Clark? Which Titus represents.
Just last month, county commissioners approved cutting funding to senior centers, medical clinics in Beatty and Amargosa, animal shelters, and may have to cut jobs. All to bridge a $3 million general fund deficit.
So as Yucca stumbles up to its feet, you can be guaranteed the old warrior Reid is loading up for one final run to put the site out of the match.
Let’s hope the rallying opponent ducks at just the right moment, sending Reid flying over the proverbial top rope, taking Heller and Sandoval with him into Bryan’s and Titus’ lap.
Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times.