New Yucca Mountain
Poll Shows Dramatic Shift in Public Opinion
By Chuck Muth
April 5, 2015
For decades now, the acrimonious debate over building a
nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, located about 1,760 football fields
away from Las Vegas, has generated enough heat to power a small third-world
But thanks to an op-ed by freshman Republican Rep. Cresent
Hardy, which was published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal two weeks ago, perhaps
we will finally see some light on the subject.
To be sure, Hardy didn’t advocate in favor of Yucca
Mountain.He simply suggested it was
time for Nevadans to have a full, open discussion about Yucca Mountain.
He said before saying "no" to any deal with Congress for doing
this service for the nation that we should (a) hear all the facts, not just the
rhetoric and political propaganda, and (b) find out what potential benefits might
be put on the table for our consideration.
Naturally, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s head exploded.Reid, after all, has built his political
career on the back of hyper-ventilating knee-jerk opposition to Yucca Mountain.
“Rep. Hardy is living in a world that doesn’t exist,” Reid
snarled in response to Hardy’s op-ed.“Opening
the door to a nuclear dump in Nevada is not something I will ever accept.”
For her part, Rep. Dina Titus – another who has built a
political career over opposition to Yucca – declared that anyone willing to
negotiate on this issue was nothing more than “a prostitute haggling over the
One might suggest that it takes a political prostitute to
know one, but I’ll refrain.
For their part, Robert Lang and Willie Brown of the
Brookings Institute weighed in, comparing Yucca Mountain to the 2011 Fukushima
Daiichi disaster in which the facility’s nuclear reactor suffered a near-meltdown
after being hit by a tsunami.
But what we’re talking about at Yucca is storing spent
nuclear pellets, not a nuclear power plant.Radioactive apples to radioactive oranges.
THE ART OF THE DEAL
“The next time you get pitched on swapping a nuclear dump
for a token of federal aid,” the pair advised Hardy, “simply say Nevadans know
a bad deal when they see one.”
But that’s exactly Hardy’s point.
We don’t know if it’s a bad deal because we’ve never been
able to see one.And I guarantee you any
deal in exchange for Yucca will NOT be in return for some “token”
federal aid.It’ll have to be a bank
vault’s worth just for the opening ante.
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sun reached a similar level of high
dudgeon and near-hysteria, editorializing a week after publication of Hardy’s
op-ed that the Republican congressman from Mesquite was “putting not only Las
Vegas’ economy, but the lives of our children, grandchildren and generations of
future Nevadans at risk.”
The paper called Hardy’s suggestion that we talk about this
issue “stunning” and accused him of “betrayal.”
You can all but hear publisher Brian Greenspun wondering out
loud, “Now where did I put that hangman’s noose?”
However, other more open-minded voices have also emerged
from the shadows following the courageous violation of Yucca omerta by Rep.
CAN WE TALK?
The Las Vegas Review-Journal itself, while maintaining its opposition
to Yucca Mountain, seconded Hardy’s motion to begin a discussion, saying it was
time for Nevada’s elected officials to “stop the alarmism.”
“Decades of politically expedient doomsday predictions have
served no productive purpose and instead risked becoming self-fulfilling
prophesies,” the newspaper editorialized last Sunday.
“Nuclear waste is not a hypothetical material,” the RJ
continued.“It not only exists, it’s
being stored safely in all kinds of environments.And Nevada’s nuclear proving grounds are
isolated, unfit for productive use, and secure.”
The paper concluded with the following…
“So make us an offer we can’t refuse, Washington.Everyone has a price.No one knows that more than members of
Congress.Just to remember to say, ‘Pretty
please.’We can always say no.”
absolutely no harm in talking about this issue no matter how vehemently the
opposition declares otherwise.Shutting
down free and open speech on an issue of public policy is, indeed, as
un-American as it gets.
And according to a new poll Citizen Outreach commissioned
last week, a majority of Nevadans apparently now agree.
SHIFT IN PUBLIC
The auto-dial poll was conducted by PMI, Inc.The poll was conducted of 802 respondents out
of 20,000 registered Nevada voters statewide, randomly selected, between March
26-30, 2015.The wording of the poll was
simple and to the point…
“Hello, this is a quick, one-question survey about Yucca Mountain.
“Congressman Cresent Hardy recently wrote that Nevadans should open
discussions with the federal government to see what kind of benefits we might
receive in the way of increased funding for education, roads and a larger
allotment of water from the Colorado River.
“Do you agree with Rep. Hardy that we should at least listen to any
offers, or should Nevada continue to adamantly oppose Yucca Mountain regardless
of what benefits might be put on the table.Press 1 if you think Nevada should be open to discussions. Press 2 if
you think Nevada should continue to just say no.”
The results were surprising.A majority of respondents, 54.97 percent, agreed with Rep. Hardy that
Nevadans should be open to having a discussion about Yucca, while 45.03 percent
maintain their non-negotiable opposition.
The margin of error was plus-or-minus 5 percent.
Interestingly, the poll oversampled Clark County, where the
vast majority of the population resides and where opposition has traditionally
been both higher and more vocal.But
even in Clark, support for Rep. Hardy’s position still garnered 53 percent
And as much as our elected officials would like us to
believe this is not a partisan issue, a majority of Democrats surveyed, 55.8
percent oppose discussing the issue, while 61.8 percent of Republicans support
opening discussions, while 60.3 percent of independents also support open
This is truly a surprising reversal of the historical “just
say no” public opposition to Yucca Mountain.
Granted, more in-depth scientific polling would delve deeper
into both sides of the issue and likely reveal significant nuances to the
responses, but even this superficial shift in overall public opinion in favor
of discussions on the issue could be a game-changer.
Rep. Hardy’s suggestion to open discussions of this
important “third rail” issue in Nevada took an awful lot of political courage.
The kind of courage maybe Nevadans should want in a new U.S.
You can read this column online, as well as access archives of past Muth's Truths columns by clicking here...