Newspaper column: Obama’s 21st century policy amounts to Manifest Inertia


Rep. Cresent Hardy conducts a hearing on overregulation at the North Las Vegas City Hall.

During the 19th century Americans fulfilled our Manifest Destiny, settling the land, tilling the soil, building businesses and industries from coast to coast.

But in this 21st century President Obama and his legions of paperwork pushing, regulation writing, intransigent bureaucrats have instead given Americans a doctrine of Manifest Inertia — build nothing, grow nowhere, do nothing.

Just this past week Obama rejected a proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline to carry Canadian crude oil to refineries in Texas, thus killing the opportunity to create 9,000 construction jobs and 40,000 ancillary jobs. This was despite the fact the State Department actually said that not building the pipeline would increase greenhouse emissions by 28 to 42 percent more than if the pipeline were built, because the oil would still be pumped but shipped in a less clean manner.

Battle Born Nevada is on the front lines of the Manifest Inertia fight, which began long before Obama took command. A dozen years ago or so a high ranking executive with the Interior Department, which controls the vast majority of Nevada land, explained during a newspaper editorial board meeting that the unwritten policy of the agency was “acre-for-acre” — meaning that for every acre of federal land that was sold for private development, an acre of private land somewhere else should be purchased, so the agency holdings would never decline. This was not a policy to preserve the land, but one to preserve federal jobs and the power of the executives.

This past week Obama put this policy in writing. In a presidential memoranda to the various agencies that control federal land, Obama told the agencies they “should establish a net benefit goal or, at a minimum, a no net loss goal for natural resources the agency manages …” To the bureaucrats, “no net loss” doubtlessly is “acre-for-acre” writ in stone.

To illustrate a few of the problems faced by businesses trying to run the gantlet of federal regulations being created by executive branch bureaucrats instead of elected members of Congress, Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy conducted a congressional subcommittee meeting this past week in North Las Vegas to hear testimony from small businesses about their ordeals. The hearing was titled “Regulatory Overload: The Effects of Federal Regulations on Small Firms.”

Hardy — whose district covers the northern portion of Clark County, the southern part of Lyon County and all of White Pine, Nye, Mineral, Esmeralda, and Lincoln counties — heard from officers of financial institutions in Caliente and Alamo, a rural electric executive from Overton and a representative of southern Nevada home builders.

In his introductory remarks, Hardy noted that the federal government is creating 600 pages of new regulations a day, covering every conceivable aspect of the economy and costing billions of dollars in compliance costs.

Both of the financial institution executives said financial regulations, such as Dodd-Frank, threaten their continued viability and, if they are forced to close, customers would have to drive many miles to conduct banking transactions. One has stopped mortgage loans altogether due to regulatory burdens and the other only does a handful a year.

David Jennings, a board member of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, testified that the Bureau of Land Management has begun to generate revenue for itself by deeming that the dirt excavated from construction sites constitutes a “mineral.” Since the BLM retains mineral rights, it is charging contractors for moving dirt — filing 84 so-called mineral trespass claims in recent years, Jennings said.

He added this practice is inflating the price of homes and pricing potential buyers out of the market.

Mendis Cooper, testifying on behalf of the Nevada Rural Electric Association, said the regulatory burden is threatening the ability to provide reliable and affordable electricity.

Ten years ago, Cooper related, it took about a year and $500 a mile to obtain permits from the BLM for transmission line rights of way. Today, it takes as long as eight years and $25,000 a mile.

He said costs are escalating for power customers due to compliance with Obama’s Clean Power Plan, protections for sage grouse and other species under the Endangered Species Act, having to route lines around new national monuments, the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly permits and restrictions under the Waters of the U.S. policy and countless other federal rules.

In an interview after the hearing, Hardy said the current practice of rule making by the administration has essentially usurped the role of Congress to write the laws of the land.

That’s how we got Manifest Inertia instead of Manifest Destiny.

A version of this column appears this week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Tesla numbers still don’t add up for huge tax break

Apparently, what Tesla Motors lacks in profit, it makes up for in volume.

The company’s stock increased 10 percent Wednesday following a lackluster third quarter report. It sold fewer cars than anticipated this past quarter, but projects more this next quarter, so the price went up. Tesla logged a loss of 58 cents a share.

Investor’s must be like the Nevada Legislature. Never mind actual performance, it is the blue sky promises that count.

That’s why the governor and the Legislature cut a deal with Tesla for its new battery manufacturing facility to operate tax-free for a decade if it invests $3.5 billion. The deal eventually amounts to tax exemptions and credits totaling $1.3 billion. The state also agreed to spend $100 million to build a highway linking the site to U.S. Highway 50 in Lyon County. It has been estimated that the deal equals $385,000 per job.

A Seeking Alpha analyst reports that Tesla lost nearly $20,000 per vehicle in Q3, up from about $11,000 a car a year ago. The company’s negative free cash flow was $51,344 per car sold.

Tesla hopes its gigafactory will be able to cut the price of batteries for its cars from $500 per kWh to $250. The company’s Model S is equipped with an 85 kWh battery pack. That could save $21,000 and make the cars break even? That’s a business model to envy — break even.

A competitor intends to build batteries for $100 per kWh.

Tesla battery plant near Sparks (Reuters photo)

When economic reality slaps liberal fantasy in the face

Don’t you love it when irresistible reality smashes into immovable liberal fantasy? It creates a critical mass of illogical proportions that blows the mind.

On the pages of the Las Vegas Sun today is reprinted a four-day-old editorial dismissing all the Republican tax reform plans out of hand. (The paper has yet to print its online editorial questioning the state’s “most conservative newspaper” editorial about a polluting solar thermal plant.)

Meanwhile, in the pages of Investor’s Business Daily, there is a column about how GOP candidate Ted Cruz’s flat tax plan would create jobs and grow the economy, and the Tax Foundation has created a webpage comparing the various Republican tax plans, showing all the plans would create more jobs and grow the economy.

The Timesmen (and Timeswomen, to be politically correct) assert that the proposed “big and broad cuts” mostly benefit the wealthy — with their customary knee-jerk class envy without any inkling that the wealthy might spend that  windfall on cars, yachts and other luxuries made by American workers.

“All of these candidates deny fiscal reality,” the editorialists insist, with fiscal and historic blinders firmly in place. “In the next 10 years, revenues will need to increase by 40 percent simply to keep federal spending even, per capita, with inflation and population growth. Additional revenues will be needed to pay for health care for the elderly, transportation systems and other obligations, as well as for newer challenges, including climate change. And interest on the national debt will surely rise because interest rates have nowhere to go but up.” They conclude taxes have to go up. It is inevitable. It is dogma. It is in stone.

To begin, why must revenues increase? Can spending never be cut? Secondly, they ignore the concept of elasticity and dynamism. Letting people keep and spend their own money can and does grow the economy and has done so in the past.

The IBD columnists point out that working people currently bear 80 percent of the tax burden in the form of reduced wages that would otherwise be paid. Of Cruz’s plan, the writers note, “The Tax Foundation scores the 16% business flat tax as raising $25.4 trillion in federal revenues over the next decade, which would account for 71% of all federal revenue.”

Meanwhile, the Tax Foundation shows every GOP presidential candidate tax plans so far announced would increase GDP by more than 10 percent, wages by at least 6.5 percent, jobs by 2.7 million to 5.8 million, and only slightly reduce federal revenue — except Rand Paul’s plan, which would actually grow tax revenue.

tax compare

Find online at Tax Foundation.

Never let the facts get in the way of the liberal agenda

It is not about running a free and secure country. It is not about providing infrastructure and public services.

It is about creating a nation founded on fairness and egalitarianism. Everyone is going to be equal even if that means equally poor.

Obama said as much in the 2008 debate.

“Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness,” he stressed. “We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year — $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”

In fact, he seem to dismiss as irrelevant the fact that his “fair” taxes might generate less revenue. That wasn’t the point fairness was.

Wal-Mart workers demand higher pay. (AP photo)

This ideological spin and the damn the outcome attitudes was skewered on the two facing opinion pages of Investor’s Business Daily today.

Tom Sowell noted that the current Democratic mantra is that “the rich” don’t pay their “fair share.” He argues that the soak the rich appeal is nothing but an emotional political appeal with no basis whatsoever in facts, history or economics.

“When the state of Maryland raised its tax rate on people with incomes of a million dollars a year or more, the number of such people living in Maryland fell from nearly 8,000 to fewer than 6,000,” Sowell writes. “Although it had been projected that the tax revenue collected from such people in Maryland would rise by $106 million, instead these revenues fell by $257 million.

“There was a similar reaction in Oregon and in Britain. Rich people do not simply stand still to be sheared like sheep. They can either send their money somewhere else, or they themselves can leave.”

Then there was the lede editorial on the opposite page that relates what happened when Wal-Mart bowed to political pressure and raises the minimum wages it pays its employees.

Wal-Mart  raised its base wage to $9 an hour in April and plans to increase to $10 an hour in February 2016. This past week the company said it expects a drop of 6 to 13 percent in earnings due to higher costs.

Everyone praised the wage hike, but did not seem to think much about the 1,000 workers the company laid off at its headquarters or the 2,500 workers who lost jobs when five stores closed due to plumbing problems.

After the announcement of the earnings projection, Wal-Mart’s stock price fell 10 percent in one day — a $21 billion loss. A lack of fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders?

How will a government enforced hike in the minimum work out any differently?

Then there is the war on carbon mentioned in another editorial that points out how the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said “we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic-development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”

They don’t want to save the planet they want to transform the way people live. They want people to live in high-density rabbit warrens without private cars, scratching out of menial living in menial jobs.

Still another editorial shows how the ObamaCare projections are coming up short of original pie-in-the-sky projections.

ObamaCare enrollment will be about half what the Congressional Budget Office projected.

“This terrible forecast comes in the wake of the massive rate increases that insurers across the country requested for 2016, some of which were as high as 50% and many of which state regulators are approving, despite administration promises that they’d be knocked down,” IBD editorialists observe. What happened to that $2,500-a-year savings?

Eight ObamaCare exchanges, including Nevada’s, are going belly up with more to come.


Reality bites liberal dreams.



Those who fail to remember history … will see their life savings wiped out

Foreclosure sign in Las Vegas (R-J photo)

When your life savings disappear when the bubble bursts again, who ya gonna blame? But what difference does it make then?

Heritage Foundation fellow Stephen Moore has an interesting — and all too familiar — lede on one of his two columns posted online Friday.

Moore tells of his 13-year-old son talking at the dinner table about how Franklin Roosevelt ended the Great Depression. That’s what his history book says. “Of course, the New Deal exacerbated the pain and financial devastation of a stock market crash, and unemployment lingered in double digits for a decade after Roosevelt was elected until the start of World War II. We get this kind of rampant revisionism because the left writes the history books — which they are doing right now,” Moore morosely relates.

He goes on to note how the Great Recession is being blamed on greedy bankers and a lack of regulation, and now Ben Bernanke in the Wall Street Journal is claiming he saved the economy with $3 trillion in quantitative easing and zero interest rates, though this is what actually created the crash.

“As my fellow Heritage colleague Norbert Michel and other scholars have thoroughly documented, the crash of 2008 was caused by government policies and regulatory failure, including easy money policies that flooded the markets with debt,” Moore writes. “Within a decade, these policies led to preposterous mortgage loans being issued, and massive over-leverage of government, companies, and households.”

Easy credit caused housing prices to balloon until they burst in a foreclosure crisis.

In a separate column on the same theme in Investor’s Business Daily, Moore points out that Fannie and Freddie are again guaranteeing mortgages with down payments as low as 3 percent — “the same subprime mortgages that crashed eight years ago. The housing lobby demands it, and Congress complies. So taxpayers are back on the hook with the same Fannie and Freddie policies that required $150 billion in bailouts.”

The blame game is easy to play after the fact, but the problem is that no one is learning from the history just what caused the problem and acting to prevent a reoccurrence.

Here is a run down from 2008 trying to explain what caused the Great Recession — a partial list at best:

  • The Federal Reserve, which slashed interest rates after the dot-com bubble burst, making credit cheap.

  • Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively.

  • Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses.

  • Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes.

  • The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and downpayment requirements for working- and middle-class families.

  • Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates.

  • Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages.

  • Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), and issued bonds using those securities as collateral.

  • The Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market.

  • An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic.

  • Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up.

Sound familiar?

They left out federal government debt.

In 2008 the debt was $10 trillion. Now it is $18 trillion, but low interest rates are protecting Obama and foisting the problem onto the next administration, possibly a Republican one, to take the blame. Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling and have Congress let him write a blank check.

Even Donald Trump, whose crystal ball is often clouded, sees the problem ahead. He told The Hill recently a crash is coming. “You know who gets hurt the most? People who practice the American dream and did what should have been the right way — the people that went through 40 years of their life and saved a hundred dollars every week …” Trump said. “They worked all their lives to save and now what happens is they’re being forced into an inflated stock market and at some point they’ll get wiped out.”

Moore concludes:

“The point is that government and politicians have no learning curve. All of the conditions of financial wreckage are reappearing. The presidential candidates should start warning voters that Washington is rebuilding another financial house of cards.

“If they don’t, when the financial crash comes and Americans see their life savings disappear, the media and the history books will again blame conservatives for the destruction from the rampant financial negligence of government.”


Checkbook journalism rings up big bucks for politicos

Everybody knew the networks were practicing checkbook journalism, but who knew the checks were so big?

Paul Sperry, writing in today’s Investor’s Business Daily, reports that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was paid nearly half a million dollars by Fox News until he announced his candidacy.

Mike Huckabee’s payola was clearly labeled, but worth $500,000 a year? Fox also paid Rick Santorum $100,000 and John Kasich hauled in $265,000 a year, while doling out $1 million for a three-year deal with Sarah Palin.

The liberals at CNN do it too, contracting with Obama adviser David Axelrod to work as a commentator.

Who knows what made NBC think Chelsea Clinton was worth $600,000. Why that’s as much as three speeches from either of her parents.

The Society of Professional Journalists calls such checkbook “journalism” unethical for many good reasons — the foremost is that money corrupts and paying for information or sources corrupts journalism.

The SPJ Code of Ethic admonishes: “Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.”

The SPJ warns about getting into bidding wars, which, as a former editor with a strict budget, I can appreciate, even if the networks do not.

Here are a few other SPJ reasons why checkbook journalism is vile:

First, paying for information immediately calls into question the credibility of the information. …

Creating a market for information that sells also raises the possibility that entrepreneurs looking to make money will create their own news, staging or inventing stories to attract the big checks.

Second, paying for information creates a conflict of interest. By writing a check for an interview, the journalist now has a business relationship with the source. Asking tough questions, examining the motives, weighing the credibility of a source — all of these journalistic functions become intricately more complicated when the source is someone receiving money for a story.

And third, once a media outlet has paid for information, it is less likely to continue to search for the details of the story for fear it might uncover conflicting information.

A source who chooses to tell a story and tell it exclusively should want to choose the reporter who has the clearest record of demonstrated competence rather than the one waving the largest check.

While it is true that journalism is a capitalistic endeavor and money must be made, being first and being exclusive should never be the primary motive of journalists. The primary motive always should be an accurate report.

There is a market for credibility. Once you’ve sold that, you’ve entered the world’s oldest profession.




Ignorance may be bliss, but it cannot prevent the inevitable collapse

An actual ad encouraging young adults to get health insurance. (

How in the world can anyone expect that a majority of an increasingly degenerate people accustomed to the “right” to vote should ever voluntarily renounce the opportunity of looting other people’s property? Put this way, one must admit that the prospect of a social revolution must indeed be regarded as virtually nil. Rather, it is only on second thought, upon regarding secession as an integral part of any bottom-up strategy, that the task of a liberal-libertarian revolution appears less than impossible, even if it still remains a daunting one. — Former UNLV economics professor Hans-Herman Hoppe, “Democracy: The God That Failed

Thomas Sowell questions why so many uninformed but potential voters seem willing, after six years of domestic and international disasters coming from Washington, “under a glib egomaniac in the White House, so many potential voters are turning to another glib egomaniac to be his successor” — Donald Trump to be specific.

Sowell concludes in his Inverstor’s Business Daily op-ed that the problem lies in the voters themselves. “All too many signs point to an electorate including many people who are grossly uninformed or, worse yet, misinformed,” he writes. “The very fact that the voting age was lowered to 18 shows the triumph of the vision of elections as participatory rituals, rather than times for fateful choices. If anything, the age might have been raised to 30, since today millions of people in their 20s have never even had the responsibility of being self-supporting, to give them some sense of reality.”

Which brings us to the central planners who are trying to tap that youthful contingent to support ObamaCare.

As David Hebert notes in an IBD piece today the viability of ObamaCare hinges on the unemployable subsidizing the uninsurable.

Numbers don’t work, but no one can do the math. Hebert points out that the projected 35 million enrollees is really only 16.2 million. For the program to be sustainable 40 percent of the enrollees need to be healthy people between the ages of 18 and 34, who incur lower costs. But his age group makes up only 24 percent of enrollees and has an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.

This amounts to redistribution from the younger to the older. But since the younger people aren’t signing up, the premium rates keep climbing and the ObamaCare co-ops, despite being buoyed by federal grants and loans, are failing.

But younger folks don’t see it. According to a recent survey, voters 18 to 34 in age favor ObamaCare by 52 to 41 percent. “And they are indeed alone in that evaluation. Seniors, the main group that actually uses rather than simply theorizes about health care, strongly oppose it by 65 to 31 percent – more than 2-to-1 in several polls – and all adults over 50 oppose ObamaCare almost as strongly, by 57 to 37 percent,” according to Forbes article.

At least before the obvious economic failure of Eastern European socialism, it was widely thought by such rationalists that a centrally planned economy would deliver not only `social justice’ (see chapter seven below), but also a more efficient use of economic resources. This notion appears eminently sensible at first glance. But it proves to overlook the facts just reviewed: that the totality of resources that one could employ in such a plan is simply not knowable to anybody, and therefore can hardly be centrally controlled. — F.A. Hayek, “The Fatal Conceit

Trump voters will not listen to reason

Frank Luntz (AP photo)

Never let the facts get in the way of your faith.

After a focus group put together by Republican pollster Frank Luntz was unshaken in its devotion to Donald Trump despite being shown videos of his flip-flops and outrageous tantrums, Luntz was shaken. “My legs are shaking,” Luntz actually said.

It appears a fairly large segment of those who claim to be Republican primary voters (more than 20 percent, according to most polls) don’t want a leader or a government that will get out of their way and leave them free to conduct their affairs as they see fit, but, instead, pine for a messiah or someone with star-power.

According to a Time account of Luntz’s grilling of Trump faithful:

The focus group watched taped instances on a television of Trump’s apparent misogyny, political flip flops and awe-inspiring braggadocio. They watched the Donald say Rosie O’Donnell has a “fat, ugly face.” They saw that Trump once supported a single-payer health system, and they heard him say, “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created.” But the group — which included 23 white people, 3 African-Americans and three Hispanics and consisted of a plurality of college-educated, financially comfortably Donald devotees — was undeterred.

At the end of the session, the vast majority said they liked Trump more than when they walked in.

They stuck with the mercurial Trump no matter what he says or does or how often he bobs and weaves on his stances.

Luntz concluded, “Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”

No, Trump is just one of those people who is famous for being famous and too many voters will blindly follow.

As Stephen Moore and Lawrence Kudlow point out in an Investor’s Business Daily op-ed today, protectionist Trump would be worst Republican president since Herbert Hoover, whose Smoot-Hawley tariffs helped launch the Great Depression.

“A draft of Trump’s 14-point economic manifesto promises that, as president, he would ‘modify or cancel any business, or trade agreement that hinders American business development, or is shown to create an unfair trading relationship with a foreign entity,'” they write, noting that tax cuts and regulatory relief, not trade barriers, will solve the nation’s competitiveness deficit.

Perhaps it is not just the voters who want someone to do all the heavy lifting. Even Congress has punted on its responsibilities, as Bill Wilson points out on the same page of IBD.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker recently spelled out his opposition to Obama’s Iran nuke deal in a Washington Post op-ed piece. As Wilson notes, it was Corker who cut the deal that will require both houses of Congress to turn down the treaty by a veto-proof two-thirds majority, a near impossibility, instead of the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the Senate must approve it.

“But for the past 100 years, Congress has frantically handed its powers, rights and prerogatives over to the executive branch. In so doing, they are rendering themselves impotent and meaningless,” Wilson states.

Nobody wants to think for themselves or take responsibility.

After the focus group session, Luntz said, “There’s like an alternative universe.”

Donald Trump (AFP-Getty Images photo)


How to fix the Social Security debacle

I kept thinking this week as Washington bureaucrats celebrated the 80th birthday of Social Security that I should point out how the whole thing is a big Ponzi scheme, as I did in 2009. Eighty years ago every retiree was supported by 40 workers, but soon that ratio will be 2 to 1.

Sen. Harry Reid says Social Security is just fine, though in 1980 he said the trust fund was being embezzled.

Stephen Moore beat me to it with today’s op-ed in Investor’s Business Daily. “From the moment Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security in 1935, the system was set up as a classic Ponzi scheme,” he writes, citing the worker to retiree ratios.

Moore not only points out the problem, but he offers a fix:

There are options to fix the program, but they’re all very bad for today’s and tomorrow’s workers. Democrats want to raise the tax — and take even more money from workers’ paychecks. Republicans, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, want to cut benefits. Anyway you cut it, young workers will be asked to pay more in and get less out.

Another fix that would forever end the Ponzi scheme and provide today’s young workers with higher, not lower benefits. Give them the option of putting 10% of their 12.6% payroll tax dollars into an individual account that’s invested in an index fund of all stocks.

At historic rates of return, this would give workers a 7% return per year, which would let them retire as millionaires after 40 years of work. They’d receive two to three times more than Social Security promises.

Social Security could still be there as a backstop for those who didn’t reach a minimum benefit, and the feds could issue long-term bonds to pay existing retirees their promised benefits.


IBD chart

Yucca Mountain: Dead or on life support?

Sen. Harry Reid met with a group of Review-Journal editorial staffers Wednesday and spouted his usual dismissal of the chances of Yucca Mountain ever opening as a nuclear waste repository.

Inside Yucca Mountain

“Yucca Mountain is gone. It’s not going to happen,” Reid said in the meeting. “Take drive up there. Look at it. All that billions of dollars in equipment. Where do you think that has gone? To the junk yard. That big multibillion-dollar auger they had it’s been junked, ground up for metal and shipped to China or wherever they send the metal. It’s closed. There’s not a chance in the world that anything is going to happen there.”

It was so routine for Reid that it did not warrant a mention in Thursday’s print edition story about the meeting. There was a brief video posted online and John L. Smith mentioned the issue in his column today, but that apparently did not warrant being posted online this morning. (The paper got around to posting the column at 8:47 a.m.)

Reid discusses Yucca Mountain (Screen grab from R-J video)

Reid discusses Yucca Mountain (Screen grab from R-J video)

Also on Thursday, according to today’s R-J, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a draft study that says Yucca Mountain would cause “only a negligible increase” in health risk from radioactive particles that might leak into groundwater.

The story quotes Rep. Joe Heck, who is running as a Republican for Reid’s Senate seat, as saying there is little Nevada can do to stop Yucca Mountain if authorities deem it safe for nuclear waste storage.

“If the federal government says it’s coming, its coming,” the R-J reports Heck said in a campaign interview Wednesday with the Nevada Appeal in Carson City.

A couple of Nevada delegates to D.C. have recently suggested that they are open to discussion of benefits for Nevada in exchange for opening Yucca Mountain.

The NRC draft study concludes:

The NRC staff finds that all of the impacts on the resources evaluated in this supplement would be SMALL. The NRC staff’s analysis includes the impact of potential radiological and nonradiological releases from the repository on the aquifer and at surface discharge locations of groundwater beyond the regulatory compliance location. The peak estimated annual individual radiological dose over the one-million-year period at any of the evaluated locations is 1.3 mrem [0.013 mSv]. This maximum dose is associated with pumping and irrigation at the Amargosa Farms area, and the estimated radiological dose at any other potential surface discharge location is lower. The NRC staff concludes that the estimated radiological doses are SMALL because they are a small fraction of the background radiation dose of 300 mrem/yr 22 [3.0 mSv/yr] (including radon), and much less than the NRC annual dose standards for a Yucca Mountain repository in 10 CFR Part 63 {15 mrem [0.15 mSv] for the first 10,000 years, and 100 mrem [1 mSv] for one million years, after permanent closure}. Based on conservative assumptions about the potential for health effects from exposure to low doses of radiation, the NRC staff expects that the estimated radiation dose would contribute only a negligible increase in the risk of cancer or severe hereditary effects in the potentially exposed population. Impacts to other resources at all of the affected environments beyond the regulatory compliance location from radiological and nonradiological material from the repository would also be SMALL. The cumulative impact analysis concludes that, when considered in addition to the incremental impacts of the proposed action, the potential impacts of other past, present, or reasonably foreseeable future actions would be SMALL.

To store 77,000 metric tons of nuke waste would require 40 miles of tunnels.  Yucca Mountain already has seven miles of tunnel, along with numerous niches, alcoves and more than 180 boreholes in which various experiments and studies have been performed.

To add further finality to the safety of Yucca Mountain, the NRC even delves into the Obama administrations obsession with “environmental racism,” as outlined in an Investor’s Business Daily editorial today, which says federal agencies are blocking businesses and governments from locating potentially polluting operations inside or near populations of low-income or minority people.

The NRC draft uses the term “environmental justice” 32 times and has an entire section on this topic.

Five pages are devoted to this issue in the draft, but it includes:

DOE has identified no high and adverse potential impacts to members of the general public associated with exposure to contaminants that may occur in groundwater following closure of a repository at Yucca Mountain. Further, DOE has not identified subsections of the population, including minority or low-income populations that would receive disproportionate impacts. Likewise, DOE has identified no unique exposure pathways that would expose minority or low-income populations to disproportionately high and adverse impacts. The Department acknowledges the sensitivities and cultural practices of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe concerning the use and purity of springs in the [Furnace] Creek area; however, the information included in this Analysis of Postclosure Groundwater Impacts demonstrates that the potential concentrations of contaminants in those springs would be so low that there would be virtually no potential health effects associated with the use of those springs. Thus, this document supports the Department’s previous conclusion that no disproportionately high and adverse impacts would result from a repository.

How many of those temporary waste storage pools and dry casks are located nearer to large minority populations?