blank.gif (51 bytes) Rural Wrap

Miller Pulls Out Old Standard
in Opposition to Nuke  Dump

by Dan Steninger

coring zero points for originality, Governor Bob Miller has announced a new approach in the fight to keep the nation’s nuclear testing ground pristine.

Miller recently explained that the effort to dispose of the waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants in the Nevada desert should be abandoned because it was going to cost a lot more than originally planned.

The customers of nuclear-using electrical utilities have been paying taxes for many years to build up a kitty for the disposal of the wastes from plants, a situation created when Congress decided the federal government should be the one to take care of this disposal problem. That fund sits at $14 billion and is expected to reach $28 billion.

But, in typical fashion, the central government has managed to fritter away so much money on the relatively simple project of building a facility that current estimates put the final disposal cost of this waste at more than $50 billion.

Congress has taken at least one step to hold down the costs: freezing the money that was being funneled to Nevada to enable our state leaders to finance the obstructions to the project. But Miller, as yet, hasn’t lauded that sensible action.

Instead, the man who will go down in history for his record-breaking spending increases bemoans the fact that, unless the tax is hiked on those utility customers, then the taxpayers of the nation are going to be stuck for around half of this $50 billion hole.

This is exactly the reason we don’t have nuclear reactors dotting our landscape, providing us with cheap, clean electricity. The nuclear paranoiacs and environmental charlatans have insisted on endless regulation of an industry that has yet to kill a single worker or bystander, making the construction of new plants impossibly expensive. Who can explain the position of a paranoiac?

The angle for the environmentalist is pretty straightforward; they hate people, especially people who move out of high-rise apartment buildings and settle on a few acres in the country. Cheap power facilitates this spread of people, so despite the fact nuclear power leads to their purported goal of environmentally friendly industry, environmentalists are against it.

There appears to be only one solution to this boondoggle. Congress must admit it made a foolish mistake back in 1982, return the money it has taken from the industry—under, it is becoming glaringly clear, false pretenses, add in a generous interest payment, and tell those electric companies that it is now up to them to find a way to get rid of the waste. The industry will complain that that it is going to cost them another $56 billion, on top of the $14 billion already paid, to go back to the drawing boards and find its own solution.

But that figure assumes Congress and the U.S. Department of Energy will be coordinating the new effort. With the DOE disbanded and Congress refusing to get involved, that cost would plummet. Only central planners could spend $50-plus billion on a high-tech hole; and with the nuclear industry left to its own devices, it’s a good bet that the stuff wouldn’t end up in a dump, anyway.

Were the deregulation of electrical utilities followed by the deregulation of nuclear power generation, all this "waste" could be put to use stoking new power plants. Increasing everyone’s standard of living and reducing the need to go blow up people in the Persian Gulf would be nice side benefits.

Even if that sensible path were not taken, there would be a lot of people going to their own drawing boards to come up with solutions when they smelled a chance to get a piece of that $28 billion budget. How much could it cost, for instance, to load up a rocket and send it into the Sun? The only problem with nuclear waste is that it has been adopted by the central government. Once that is corrected, the problem is going to go away.u

Dan Sreninger is the Editorial Page Editor of the ELKO DAILY FREE PRESS.


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