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Boos as Obama taps Yucca supporter

Anti-nuclear groups are fighting the Obama administrations nomination of a pro-Yucca Mountain nuclear industry insider to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), an independent U.S. government commission, created by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 and charged with licensing and regulating civilian use of nuclear energy to protect the public and the environment. .

On Oct. 9, President Barack Obama nominated nom·i·nate  
tr.v. nom·i·nat·ed, nom·i·nat·ing, nom·i·nates
1. To propose by name as a candidate, especially for election.

2. To designate or appoint to an office, responsibility, or honor.
 Bill Magwood to the commission, which is charged with regulating and licensing all civilian use of nuclear materials, including the stalled nuclear waste dump proposed for 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. .

Critics of the choice say Magwood has a history of nuclear boosterism boost·er·ism  
The highly supportive attitudes and activities of boosters: "the civic pride and heady boosterism that often accompany rising property values" New York. 
 that is incompatible with the role of a regulator. He also has repeatedly been quoted as saying Yucca Mountain Yucca Mountain, mountain in the SW Nevada desert about 100 mi (161 km) northwest of Las Vegas. It is the proposed site of a Dept. of Energy (DOE) repository for up to 77,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (including commercial and defense spent fuel and high-level  is the best solution to the nations nuclear waste storage issues, most recently in May.

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama say their fellow Yucca Mountain opponents need not worry, that Magwoods a changed man who wont go against the administrations vow to prevent the mountain near the California-Nevada border from becoming the storage site for the nations most radioactive material radioactive material Radiation A substance that contains unstable–radioactive–atoms that give off radiation as they decay. See Radioactive decay. .

Thats not enough assurance for many of the opponents, however.

There are a lot of people who wish someone else would have been nominated, said Judy Treichel, executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, a consortium of anti-Yucca groups.

The Project on Government Oversight An editor has expressed concern that this article or section is .
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 watchdog group, sent a letter Oct.Ê14 to the Senate committee that will

oversee Magwoods November confirmation hearing, urging the senators to reject him.

Representatives of about 100 anti-nuclear or anti-Yucca organizations, including Treichels, have signed on to a petition making similar demands.

Nevadas other senator is noncommittal for the time being. Rebecca Fisher, spokeswoman for Republican Sen. John Ensign John Eric Ensign (born 25 March 1958) is the junior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since January 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. , said Ensign doesnt know enough about Magwood yet. Ensign has a long history of supporting nominees who oppose Yucca Mountain and wants to talk to Magwood about the issue before deciding whether to support the nomination, Fisher said.

Bruce Breslow, executive director of Gov. Jim Gibbons Jim Gibbons may refer to:
  • Jim Gibbons (United States politician) (born 1944), Republican governor of Nevada.
  • Jim Gibbons (Irish politician) (1924–1997), Irish Fianna Fáil politician and government minister
 Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said he is reserving judgment until he hears Magwoods confirmation hearing testimony.

They absolutely need to ask him about his positions on Yucca. He needs to address that, Breslow said. And they should ask about any comments hes made about the nuclear industry, either pro or con.

Magwood worked for years at the Energy Department and the Office of Nuclear Energy, rising to be the top government nuclear technology official and advancing the agencies plans for Yucca Mountain.

But the White House and Reids office on Tuesday said Magwood had changed his mind on Yucca. Reid spokesman Jon Summers said Magwood had personally assured the senator that he would not pursue the Yucca dump.

White House spokesman Adam Abrams said, Bill Magwood recognizes the Obama administrations clearly stated policy that Yucca Mountain is not an option for storage of nuclear waste. He is committed to the administrations goal of developing a responsible, long-term solution to our nuclear waste storage needs.

Magwood did not return the Suns calls for comment.

Breslow said just because somebody has industry experience, that doesnt mean hell be a bad regulator. There are only three sources for commissioners: industry, academia and government, so its difficult to find a qualified commissioner without some perceived conflict of interest. But that perception of a conflict is toughest to beat when youve been working in the industry youre charged with regulating, he said.

The most important quality I look for in a good regulator The Good Regulator is a theorem due to Roger C. Conant and W. Ross Ashby that is central to cybernetics. It is stated "Every Good Regulator of a system must be a model of that system".  is fairness the ability to set aside your friends and business influences and make an objective decision based on facts and not relationships, Breslow said. Certainly the president and members of the presidents inner circles would have vetted these issues out with Mr. Magwood before his nomination, so Im sure hell do the best he can to avoid a conflict.

Stephanie Tavares canbe reached at 259-4059or at
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Author:Stephanie Tavares
Publication:Las Vegas Sun
Date:Oct 21, 2009
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