Rubio: Dump waste in Nevada

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio seems to have sided with South Carolina over Nevada on the issue of nuclear waste storage—at a time when there's increasing press attention on his need to win in Nevada.

South Carolina and Nevada are the second in line in the 2016 presidential nominating contests. South Carolina has the second primary election, after New Hampshire, and Nevada is the second caucus state, after Iowa. Both are likely to get heavy candidate and press attention.

South Carolina has been pushing for years for the opening of a nuclear waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain in Nye County, to give the Southern state a place to ditch 4,000 metric tons of radioactive waste from the state's four commercial nuclear power plants and Savannah River Site.

Rubio, whose state of Florida has nuclear power plant wastes at three sites, has been a supporter of building a Yucca Mountain dump. Since his announcement of candidacy, he has made no effort to walk back that stance.

“Many Republican strategists see Rubio, a youthful Cuban-American who is among his party's best communicators, as the candidate best positioned to reverse the tide in states like Nevada, where Democrats are looking to tighten their grip,” reported the Washington Post on May 28.

Rubio lived in Nevada as a child and his parents worked in tourism facilities. But he reportedly wants to derail Jeb Bush in South Carolina, a state carried by both of the George Bushes. That makes the Palmetto State more important to him than the Silver State.

However, the plot thickened this week when U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham entered the race against Bush and Rubio. Graham's home state is South Carolina. That may require Rubio to rethink his strategy, since Graham would have a home field advantage.

Graham has a long history of supporting a dump in Nevada. He said in 2004, “Outside experts and Congress have looked at this problem for years and we know Yucca Mountain, Nevada, is the appropriate location.”

But in more recent years, he has shifted his attention more to pushing for refunding the money the federal government has collected from nuclear power plant corporations to pay for the dump.

“Every utility involved in the process has put in billions of dollars into Yucca, so we should either use it or give the money back to the ratepayers,” Graham said in 2014.