Letters for July 29, 2004

Promote sustainable energy
Re “Moving beyond coal” (RN&R, Cover story, July 8) and “Mercury rising” (RN&R, News, July 22):

The excellent articles written by Brian Bahouth and Crissa Draper exemplify the growing need for long-term solutions and sound policies to protect our health and the environment. Mercury is rising in Nevada at the same time coal power plants are being proposed. We already have three plants in the state. According to the Nevada Natural Resources Status Report, electricity generated by coal is already at 40 percent. Coal power plants use huge amounts of water—a practice Nevada can ill afford.

Mercury is admitted into the air and then ends up in our waterways by way of rain. There, fish absorb the toxin into their systems. The fish can become highly toxic with the substance and unhealthy to eat. Coal is only cheap when its health and environmental effects are not factored in. If properly subsidized (like the coal and oil industry), renewable energy can help reduce our need for fossil fuels. In the process, the health of Nevada’s citizens and the health of the environment will greatly benefit.

Michelle Kennedy
Nevada Wildlife Federation

Yucca sucka
Re “Money for Yucca” (RN&R, Guest comment, July 15):

“Money for Yucca” misses the point. Yucca Mountain is controversial, of course; there are few issues that the scientific community is unified upon. However, there is agreement on how science should be practiced. Both the GAO and the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board cautioned that the Department of Energy (DOE) was not ready to move forward on Yucca Mountain; important scientific questions were unresolved. Yet, the Bush Administration ignored this counsel when it approved Yucca Mountain in 2002.

Patten asserts that if there is a problem with the science at the YMP, it would be solved with better funding. Good science is built upon integrity, analysis and skepticism. Without this critical base, no amount of money will “fix” the problems. Indeed, we would not be having this discussion had the DOE been mindful of the results from its own studies and honored the rules that it put in place back in 1985 to determine whether any site, not just Yucca, would be suitable. Instead, the DOE endeavored to change both the EPA standard and its own rules after the facts revealed Yucca Mountain as unsuitable.

Now, the U.S. D.C. Court of Appeals has sent the Bush Administration’s EPA regulation back for not following the National Academy of Science recommendation (Technical Basis for Yucca Mountain Standards, 1995) as instructed by the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Here again, science and law were ignored, which the court recognized.

Certainly, good funding is needed to conduct scientific studies at Yucca Mountain, but throwing money at the DOE, so it can be wasted on non-objective “Make it Fit” science is not only a disservice to the public, but potentially dangerous.

John Hadder
Citizen Alert

Strangled city
Re “The noose tightens” (RN&R, News, July 8):

Dennis Myers reports correctly that “The noose tightens” on Northern Nevada’s casino economy.

The nation’s incorporated casino resorts are doing it to us (tightening the noose, that is). In fact, in the long run, by engulfing the communities that have allowed them ingress, large incorporated casino resorts are doing it to themselves.

According to Myers, University of Nevada economist Thomas Cargill says that seeing an upside to California Gov. Schwarzenegger’s following Nevada’s governmental funding example requires not thinking of Reno’s casino economy and Reno’s economy as one and the same.

There needs to be a renewal of the symbiotic relationship between the community and the gambling industry. It may be that Nevada-based casino resorts can save the industry from itself, in the same way the industrial revolution came into its own as a positive part of humanity’s economic evolution, by recognizing and embracing its workers, customers, providers, clients and communities.

The ball seems to be in the court of Reno’s casino economy. Physician, heal thyself.

Here’s an off-the-wall suggestion: casino-hands-off entrepreneurial investment in a public transport system from a Reno terminal, which would convey theatre, concert-goers and lecture-attendees to and from evening performances in Carson City, Virginia City, Incline Village, even TMCC and Carson’s Western Community College.

Beth Miramon