Mark Kleiman has a must-read piece on nulear power, in which he cogently outlines the case for nuclear power. However, as a partisan and a polemicist, I shall choose to focus on this part of his post:
Nuclear waste. This is a problem only if you think that we need to plan waste disposal that will (no, I’m not making this up) survive the end of civilization and be safe for the ignorant primitive nomads who will wander the earth 10,000 years from now. Actually, the solution isn’t technically very hard.
Current plans are to deal with all the waste, high-level and low-level, together. The idea is bury the stuff in deep salt caves and pray the water table doesn’t rise. And of course no one wants to have the burial site nearby; that fact just might cost George Bush, who broke a campaign promise and did the right thing, Nevada’s electoral votes.
In the Washington Post today, George Will writes:
John Kerry recently stopped in Las Vegas to say: “Rest assured, Nevada. If I’m president, Yucca Mountain will not be a depository…”
But in 1996 President Bill Clinton promised to veto any attempt to make Nevada even a temporary repository. That promise helped him beat Bob Dole there by just 4,730 votes, the smallest state margin that year.
In 2000 George W. Bush promised not to make Nevada a temporary repository, but said “sound science” would guide him regarding establishing a permanent repository there. He beat Al Gore 50-46 (301,575 to 279,978). A switch of 10,799 votes would have made Gore president.
In 2002 Bush approved Yucca Mountain as the permanent site. Congress said Nevada’s governor could veto the selection but that his veto could be overridden by majorities in both houses. He vetoed it; Congress overrode him.
By this protracted dance of democracy the interests of an American majority — 161 million live within 75 miles of today’s storage sites — prevailed, respectfully, over the objections of an intense minority, the approximately 2 million people who live in southern Nevada. Kerry’s willingness to overturn this accommodation reflects a cold, and factually correct, calculation having nothing to do with the national interest: For the intense and compact Nevada minority, unlike for the diffuse American majority, this is a vote-determining issue.
1.) Bush flip-flopped to do the right thing. Kerry seems to have changed his mind as a result of political calculations.
2.) It isn’t the GOP and the mainstream media unfairly portraying Kerry as having consistently changing positions. It is the fact that Kerry has consistently changing positions, based on crass political opportunism.