Pen and Quill

NPRI invites comment from its readers. Submit articles and letters to the editor by the 15th of each month.

Dear NPRI:
I recently received a General Accounting Office report entitled “Nevada’s use of Nuclear Waste Grant funds.” Somehow I don’t think that Bob Loux of Brian McKay will be sending out copies. Most people would not be interested in reading the whole report, but it verifies many points I made in my exchange with Brian McKay on Nevada’s conduct of its activities with respect to Yucca Mountain “oversight.”

On page 3, for example, responding to the State’s objections to the report’s findings, the GAO reports, “The state did not, however, offer any factual information beyond what had been provided us during our review or suggest any basis for a different view of the applicable law. Accordingly, we have no reason to change our view that the state had inappropriately used portions of its grant funds for activities that in some cases are outside the scope of the grant’s authorized purposes and in other cases are prohibited under the appropriation act’s restrictions.”

No less interesting are the GAO’s points about the Kamer Video Tape used so widely by the State of Nevada. The Tape is quoted in the GAO report: “Speak up. Write our Congressmen. Get involved and try to get this thing out of the State of Nevada. It’s not Nevada.”

GAO argues that this (and other items contained in the video) go far beyond providing information. The last line of Bob Loux’s response to the GAO is a classic: “The Video does not urge people to take a position one way or another on the Yucca Mountain issue or attempt to influence members of Congress, legislators or other elected officials.: Does saying “get this thing out of Nevada” really not constitute taking a position on the issue? I had noted the problems with the Kamer contract in my Online Nevada article.

Finally, the GAO had a few critical things to say about Loux’s multi state tour which the State of Nevada justified as necessary so that Loux could talk with experts in other states. Reports the GAO: “We note that the meetings conducted on the tour were with media outlets rather than with environmental and transportation experts.”

Erik Herzik, Ph. D.
Reno, Nevada

Professor Herzik is Chairman of the Department of Political Science at UNR and serves on NPRI’s Senior Editorial Staff. For the September/October issue of Online Nevada he wrote a detailed report and assessment of the politics swirling around the federal government’s proposal to establish a nuclear waste facility at Yucca Mountain entitled “Nuclear Waste: The Triumph of Politics Over Science.” Former Nevada Attorney General Brian McKay, presently Chairman of the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, wrote a response to Dr. Herzik’s article for publication in the November/December issue of Online Nevada, to which Dr. Herzik responded in the same issue.

NPRI still has a few copies of both issues of this magazine in question in the event any new reader of Online Nevada would like copies. Meanwhile, NPRI continues to wait for some detailed financial accounting of the anti-nuclear activities in recent years which, according to the GAO in Washington, have had more to do with politics and public relations than with honest inquiry and research. - Ed.

Dear NPRI:
With all the fuss about President Clinton’s 4.3 cents increase in the federal gas tax nobody ever told drivers how much money it will raise, it is very hard to find reliable comparative tax information in the daily press these days. You have been very good about reporting tax information in your magazine -- can you tell your reader’s anything about Clinton’s gas tax increase?

Herbert Smith
Truckee, California

Based on the federal Department of Energy’s 1995 “State Energy Data Report,” which utilizes confirmed 1993 state consumption patterns, President Clinton’s 4.3 cents increase means increased tax revenue from Nevada drivers and others of $29,300,000 from sales of motor fuel, $6,900,000 from highway diesel fuel and $11,700,000 from jet fuel for at total of $47,900,000. For California, the figures are $557,300,000, $53,800,000 and $161,000,000 respectively, for a state total of $772,200,000. The total U.S tax revenue with a 4.3 cents increase in the tax adds up annually to approximately $6.8 billion. Using the government's own figures, the amounts have been calculated by The Heritage Foundation. -- Ed.


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