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Muth column: I love the smell of nuclear waste in the morning

Here are three realities as they relate to the Yucca Mountain Project…

■ Nuclear waste – in the form of “pellets,” not green goo oozing from under the lids of steel canisters – is piling up at the nation’s nuclear reactors and has to go “somewhere” else.

■ The law of the land – rightly or wrongly – as passed by Congress says the only potentially suitable site for a repository is at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, not far from the old Nevada Test Site where actual nuclear bombs were once exploded.

■ That land, along with more than 85 percent of the rest of Nevada, is owned by the federal government – meaning “state’s rights” arguments are built on thin reeds. Rightly or wrongly, Yucca Mountain is not on Nevada land despite being within our borders.

A couple more realities: Harry Reid is no longer the Senate Majority Leader and no longer has the power to block efforts to designate Yucca Mountain as the nation’s waste repository. Also, Barack Obama, who did Reid’s bidding for the last eight years, is no longer in the White House.

Lastly, the lineup of states wanting the repository in Nevada vs. the states that don’t want it in Nevada is roughly 49-1, with small Nevada being the one.

Does anyone else see the inevitable writing on the Yucca Mountain wall?

Certainly not Nevada’s political elite, that’s for sure. They collectively continue to have their heads either firmly entrenched in the desert sand or somewhere else where they can see their own pancreas.

Here’s another inconvenient truth: For all his mighty power, all Harry Reid was able to do was temporarily cut off funding for the suitability STUDY of Yucca Mountain as a potential repository site. As such, Yucca is still the law of the land no matter how many times Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval stomps his feet and beats his chest King Kong-like.

So Nevadans have a choice…

We can continue our obstinacy and eventually have this national security project shoved up our wazoo without so much as cab fare home. Or we can get smart and start negotiating with the federal government for not only iron-clad safety and control measures, but a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Make no mistake: Significant and lucrative benefits have been put on the table for Nevadans for doing the nation this service, despite denials by Yucca Deniers. Indeed, such benefits were actually outlined in a Senate bill killed by Reid several years ago. You could look it up.

And a negotiated package could include designating Yucca as not simply a nuclear waste repository, but as a nuclear waste reprocessing facility (more ca-ching!), as well as a world-class energy research center. All we have to do is say, “Yes.”

So let it be written; so let it be done.

Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com.

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