Senator Reid’s New Yucca Mountain Proposal

Nicolas Loris /

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of Nevada’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Secretary Elaine Chao asking the Department of Labor to put up the “necessary resources” to help 63 recently laid-off Nevadans transition to new jobs.

Sounds reasonable, right? Reid is just trying to help some down-on-their-luck constituents. Except that Reid and his comrades are the reason those 63 scientists, engineers and technicians lost their jobs in the first place. They worked at the Yucca Mountain spent nuclear fuel repository that Reid has worked tirelessly (his words) to kill.

And guess what? If Reid gets his way, 500 more will be laid off soon followed by 2,000 more. But Reid can’t have his cake and eat it too. Instead of pushing for a taxpayer bailout, he should be leading the charge to open Yucca.

Reid himself emphasizes that Nevada’s 5.8% unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation. Yucca Mountain has the potential to revitalize Nevada’s economy. A 2003 study by the University of Nevada’s Center for Business and Economic Research reported that the Yucca project supplied $195.7 million to the state’s economy along with 3,560 jobs. Additionally, opening Yucca would provide steady economic activity — $228 million annually during construction and $127 million annually once operations begin.

That’s just the beginning. With the nation possibly entering an era of nuclear power expansion, companies would likely invest billions of dollars in other high-tech nuclear operations in Nevada if Yucca were up and running. The nuclear renaissance is about more than just reactors. It will be about fuel recycling, interim storage, and numerous other services. All of which mean jobs and money.

The time has come for Reid and company to put their anti-nuke propaganda back on the shelf. His assertions that Yucca is susceptible to earthquakes or could contaminate Nevada’s water are simply scientifically unproven. His fear mongering over the risks of transportation of spent nuclear fuel is equally dubious.

In 2006, he avowed that:

The Yucca Mountain project is a failure. I have fought against Yucca Mountain for decades, and I will continue to fight it.

Maybe it’s time to end the fight. His backwards, ideological stance on Yucca is not good for America or Nevada. Although it is unlikely that Senator Reid will change his position on Yucca Mountain, his cynical attempt to saddle America’s taxpayers with the burden of replacing the jobs that he forced out of Nevada should be unacceptable to all Americans.