(NOTE: The word count for this post is greater than usual, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing, forward the link to people you know, and contact your assemblymen, senators, and congressmen – both state and federal – in order to make your voice heard.)
Most Nevadans probably don’t even know the NWPO exists (see my post below on Bob Loux), let alone how it came about or what it does. For a little tutorial, here are some excerpts from a history written over ten years ago by author/researcher Stuart D. Waymire (emphasis mine; non-italicized sarcastic comments also mine):
“Nevada’s Nuclear Waste Project Office was created using money set aside from the Nuclear Waste Fund. Under its director, Bob Loux, NWPO has consumed nearly fifty million dollars over the last decade, much of it employed in opposition to nuclear energy…”
So, the Waste Project Office wasted Money from the Waste Fund. Seems logical to me.
“…Robert Loux…has become as notorious in Nevada as a one-man anti-nuclear wrecking ball. A high school teacher with a major in history and minor in psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno, Loux had been involved in state energy and nuclear waste programming since 1976. In fact, except for a few years of teaching high school, this appears to have been the only career he has ever pursued.”
A high school history teacher was obviously the best choice to head up an agency overseeing the largest proposed nuclear project in our nation’s history. “Duh”
“Since becoming executive director of NWPO, Loux’s lack of scientific expertise and technical credentials has become a raw wound in the Nevada technical community which sees him as a political manipulator and engineering dilettante. This hasn’t stopped Loux from gaining carte blanche over what has now grown to more than $5 million dollars per year in funds, in large part distributed to foes of the nuclear industry.”
I think $13,698.63 per day is a very reasonable rate for all the non-expert misinformation we’ve gotten from Loux and his staff.
“As a result of action by the 1985 Nevada Legislature, NWPO became, officially, the Agency for Nuclear Projects – a statutorily established entity responsible for monitoring and overseeing U.S. Department of Energy activities related to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site. In the hands of then-Governor Richard Bryan, it also became part of a political strategy designed to bludgeon political opposition into submission – notably former Senator Chic Hecht in the 1988 senatorial campaign eventually won by Bryan.
“Under the troika of Senator Bryan, director Robert Loux and former governor Grant Sawyer (who was enlisted to head the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects), the Nuclear Waste Project Office became an anti-nuclear propaganda machine.
“Oversight by the Sawyer Commission transformed into show trials masquerading as fact finding. Science conducted by NWPO’s technical and planning division was corrupted by political considerations. The social scientists of the planning division, given lucrative contracts worth $15 million, used their expertise to generate anti-nuclear hysteria in Nevada. Less abusive but no less disturbing was that some of the technical studies were designed to support the party line rather than investigate real technical questions at Yucca Mountain.”
Kudos to ex- Nevada Governors Richard Bryan and Grant Sawyer for administrative efficiency: they ordered skewed technical studies, effectively smeared the Yucca project, and defeated their political opponents using the same agency.
“Nevada’s politicians, notably Senator Bryan and ex-governor Sawyer, looked the other way as Bob Loux awarded millions of dollars of contracts without Requests For Proposals and without competitive bids.
We don’t need no stinking bids.
“Even more problematic was that the Department of Energy, which was supposed to oversee the spending of NWPO, caved in to the political pressure and allowed the state to violate federal laws rather than risk making political waves…
Given a choice between upholding federal law and being called a bunch of Big Meanies, the DOE made the obvious choice.
“For example, NWPO openly violated the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) against using funds to run public relations and lobbying campaigns. Whenever questioned about the legality of these public relations activities, Bob Loux simply claimed the regulations didn’t apply, or that his agency was in compliance because its activities were strictly ‘informational’. The pertinent regulation regarding limits on public relations and lobbying by agencies accepting Federal grants is FAR 31.205-22.”
Loux’ activites were actually MIS-informational, but let’s not split hairs – or atoms, as the case may be.
Twenty-three years later, Loux, Richard Bryan, the NWPO, most of Nevada’s elected officials, and many of Nevada’s citizens are still rabidly anti-Yucca Mountain. And, unfortunately, many well-intentioned people remain completely uninformed about the facts and benefits.
What a shame.
(I’ll collect and post assorted contact info for the appropriate persons and agencies later today, so please stand by.)