Monday, August 11, 2008

Obama on Yucca Mountain

We already knew from the Democratic debate in Nevada that Barack Obama had no use for Yucca Mountain, but despite this, and John McCain’s support of the brown mound, McCain and Obama are within a couple points of each other. Now, Obama is trying to close the deal, using Yucca Mountain as the wedge.

Well, what can we say? We either leave use nuclear fuel scattered around the country – it’s mostly held at the individual plants – or we put it in a similarly remote locale that’s not in a battleground state. Yucca Mountain may well come to represent the dangers of any long-term project subject to the hot winds of political fortune – no matter the overall good it represents. Much the same argument could be made for humming windmill farms or solar panel arrays that mar the fine landscape of some state no matter how far away from people they are.

But Obama’s position has been consistent – it’s certainly legitimate to show how it differs from McCain’s, and the ad is admittedly effective in having McCain play the NIMBY card, since Arizona lay directly next to Nevada. However, NIMBY is the name of the Yucca game and Obama has the winning hand.

A 30-second spot is not the place to develop a replacement for Yucca Mountain nor are Nevadans interested in one. However, even if Obama closed every nuclear plant in the country, he would still need a solution for used nuclear fuel or the government will have to support storing the fuel at the plants and pay for mini-repositories in multiple locales. This is really a bigger issue than a TV spot can address and our annoyance at the ad is picayune – politicians boil their messages down to bite-size morsels on most important issues, so no room to gripe about this one.

3 comments:

KenG said...

It appears that the McCain is taken out of context and may not actually reflect a concern about transportation. When you see the whole video, he seems to think the question is whether or not he would support storing waste in Phoenix.

Even Grist.org (not a fan of nuclear or McCain) seems to agree this isn't a fair use of the quote:

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/6/25/134512/387

Anonymous said...

"When you see the whole video, he seems to think the question is whether or not he would support storing waste in Phoenix."

So what? The NIMBY point remains the same: McCain's apparently willing to dump nuclear waste in Nevada, but not in Arizona.

toothache said...

It's a shame that nuclear waste can become a political football in this manner, but an unavoidable byproduct of the collegiate system