Candidate Edwards vs. Senator Edwards | Citizens Against Government Waste

Candidate Edwards vs. Senator Edwards

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact:  Mark Carpenter/Tom Finnigan
August 13, 2004(202) 467-5300


Democrat Shifts on Safe, Efficient Site for Nuclear Waste

(Washington, D.C.) – The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today denounced Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards’s change in position on the plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.  The battle over Yucca Mountain is a salient issue in Nevada, where a majority of residents oppose the plan, fearing it will adversely affect the economy and environment there.

“Senator Edwards voted consistently in favor of moving the nation’s nuclear waste during his six years in the U.S. Senate,” CCAGW President Tom Schatz said.  “He agreed that Yucca Mountain is a safe place to send radioactive materials now scattered all over the United States.  But he is now pandering to voters in Nevada in an overt effort to pick up the state’s five electoral votes.”

Edwards’s election-year conversion demonstrates a complete disregard for the liability to taxpayers he previously recognized during his years in the Senate.  On August 11, the Department of Energy (DOE) settled a lawsuit by the Exelon Corp. the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator, for $80 million in past costs for nuclear fuel storage.  The government will also pay $300 million through 2010 and $600 million by 2015, if Yucca does not open by that date.  If Yucca is not completed by that time, the costs to keep Exelon’s waste on-site could escalate.  The Exelon case is one of 65 similar lawsuits filed against DOE.

“As a former trial lawyer, Sen. Edwards may not object to the money that will be earned by his former colleagues from continued litigation over the failure of the federal government to abide by its court-ordered obligation to establish a permanent nuclear waste storage facility,” Schatz continued.  “But he is not doing taxpayers any favors, and they should know that his last-minute revelation about Yucca Mountain is predicated on pure politics and will cost Americans billions of dollars.”

The potential total liability for storing waste at nuclear plants could be more than $60 billion.  To date, more than $7 billion has been spent studying the safest and most secure site, which the government concluded, and Congress concurred, is Yucca Mountain.  In addition, ratepayers have paid in another $18 billion to the nuclear waste fund to begin construction on a permanent storage site.

“Pandering to Nevada voters over Yucca Mountain is nothing new,” Schatz concluded.  “Since President Bush won Nevada in 2000, Sen. Edwards apparently felt that politics were more important than principle, and had to jump on the bandwagon against Yucca Mountain when he joined the race.”

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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