Oh, Yucca

By Kelly Moeller

May 29, 2008 10:12am

Sen. John McCain’s support for a nuclear waste depository in Nevada at the Yucca Mountain site is pretty clear.

In March 2007, according to the Deseret News, McCain even "mocked a question about the dangers of transporting nuclear waste while speaking with Utah reporters. ‘Oh, you have to travel through states … I am for Yucca Mountain. I’m for storage facilities. It’s a lot better than sitting outside power plants all over America,’ he said, then added, ‘I don’t mean to be sarcastic. I apologize. But I believe we can transport waste safely.’"

But during a campaign stop in Nevada where he continued to reaffirm his support for Yucca — which is quite unpopular with Nevadans — McCain also said that he "would seek to establish an international repository for spent nuclear fuel that could collect and safely store materials overseas that might otherwise be reprocessed to acquire bomb-grade materials. It is even possible that such an international center could make it unnecessary to open the proposed spent nuclear fuel storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.”

The Las Vegas Sun’s influential columnist Jon Ralston found this a bit disingenuous, writing that "in the past few weeks, McCain has experienced an epiphany and decided there should be some sort of international repository for the fuel that he had so long wanted to come here? This is believable? And such a cockamamie solution, too. We are going to ship nuclear waste overseas?"

The implication is that McCain, looking at the electoral map has realized that he needs Nevada’s five electoral votes in order to beat Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois.

Obama for his part opposes Yucca, though his second-biggest campaign contributor is the nation’s largest nuclear power operator, Exelon Corp., whose CEO is a big Yucca booster.

- jpt

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