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Carl Pope

Carl's new weblog:
Taking the Initiative.

Field Notes Archive

Which is worst?
Vote for the Bush administration's
biggest folly!

Carl Pope's Field Notes

Just One Issue?
10, 2004

Las Vegas, NV

It's 115 degrees. But not as hot as the issue of dumping America's nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain is here. A few months ago a federal appeals court ruled that the Administration could not ignore the Congressional requirement that scientists certify that waste could be stored safely at Yucca for at least 10,000 years. And now Nevadans are beginning to put the heat on their Republican Governor, Republican Senator Ensign, and the two Republican House members: Why are you giving George Bush a pass on nuclear waste?

Senator Ensign last week gave the answer: Yucca Mountain is "only one issue." He even conceded that John Kerry was better than George Bush "on this one issue."

To which the Las Vegas Sun retorted, "Other issues? In Nevada, whose future for the rest of time is threatened by this proposed nuclear waste dump, there is no issue more important."

We're launching our fall Las Vegas Environmental Voter Education program -- One Earth, One Sky, One Vote -- here tonight at the headquarters of one of our Las Vegas partners, the Culinary Workers Union. For in Nevada, Yucca Mountain is a life and death issue not only for environmentalists but for everyone. The volunteer leader of our effort is Elizabeth Lenedich-Coronado.

Elizabeth became involved in the Sierra Club because she was concerned about Yucca Mountain. And she and her two daughters have been logging loads of hours helping with phone banks and making signs. On Friday, Elizabeth, originally from Mexico, will officially become a US citizen and register to vote as an American for the first time. Then it's back to the important work of educating voters about Bush and Kerry's  Yucca Mountain records. I can think of no better ambassador for our voter education work than Elizabeth, a model citizen if there ever was one.

And I've been in a whirlwind of media interviews, explaining that for the first time Nevada has a real shot at killing Yucca Mountain. Ensign is justifying Bush's stance because of the war on terrorism. But why would Al Qaeda even bother to try to steal nuclear material in Europe or Asia and smuggle it into the US when, if Yucca is licensed, there will be huge quantities of nuclear material being regularly shipped over freeway overpasses all over America?

The big danger here is that the voters, especially the hundreds of thousands of newly arrived voters, think of Yucca Mountain as a done deal. That's why our voter education program, direct, frequent and personal contact between our one thousand volunteers and tens of thousands of newly arrived or infrequent voters is so important. Voters need to know Yucca is not a done deal, and that they have power they've never had before.