The dump fight continues

Bob Fulkerson is director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. More information about PLAN can be found at

The pro-nuclear sharks smell blood in the wake of Bob Loux’s alleged pay improprieties at the Nuclear Projects office. Whatever the outcome of that dispute, Nevadans should not allow pro-dump forces to soften the state’s steadfast opposition. As a 23-year-old neophyte activist just hired to run Citizen Alert in 1984, one of my first meetings was with Bob. He treated me and other activists as equals, provided accurate information, and was always accessible.

When Gov. Richard Bryan had Bob set up a nuclear waste oversight office, the first thing Bob did was hire a geologist with strong nuclear credentials to look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s claims and see if they held water. He brought on a very talented team of professionals whose studies and data collection are legendary.

In the early days of the federal program, it was Bob who stood up to the DOE’s hierarchy and demanded accountability.

His was the strongest voice insisting that DOE’s original siting guidelines reflect real measures of suitability—not approximations. While the guidelines that DOE eventually adopted were not as strong as we would have liked, they did represent a set of credible criteria. It was no surprise when, just prior to site recommendation in 2002, DOE scrapped the guidelines in favor of a general approach that was easily manipulated. Yucca would have been disqualified under the original guidelines.

Bob Loux has been the glue that’s held together the state’s Yucca fight and kept the momentum for opposing the site going. I’ve been in this fight since 1984, and it is very apparent to me that, without Bob and his team at the project office, the state’s opposition would have been drastically weakened many times. In 1987, when Congress was debating what to do about the screwed-up DOE program, and the “Screw Nevada” bill was in Congress, state legislators were being brought back to DC by the nuclear industry to tell senators and congressmen that Nevadans weren’t really that opposed and would go along eventually. It was Bob who was there making sure that the opposition stayed focused, always pointing out the undeniable fact that Yucca was a lousy site.

Under Bob’s leadership, the law firm hired to fight Yucca Mountain challenged the site recommendation and won the case against the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA was ordered by the court to go back and write a new standard; it still has not done so. Without a standard, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can’t license the site.

Loux was instrumental in every legislative resolution formally opposing the Yucca project. He worked intensely and effectively with sponsors and opponents alike. He also has provided continuity on the Yucca issue for five governors.

Now the pro-dump forces will exploit the current misfortunes at the Nuclear Projects Office to serve their own narrow interests. Let’s not allow this to happen. Nevada is still not a wasteland.