Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Harry Reid

Feb.
19th

Hanford’s nuclear waste can’t wait another 70 years

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Set a deadline far in the future. Add 25 years. Maybe 50.

That’s the sluggishness with which the federal government – thanks in part to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – has been dealing with the nation’s most radioactive nuclear waste. A truly scary amount of that waste is quietly seething in our own backyard, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

A new leak at Hanford demonstrates the folly of strangling the safest disposal option in sight – deep burial in dry Nevada – while letting high-level nuclear waste pile up near rivers around the country in stopgap storage containers.

Hanford hosts 56 million gallons of hot reactor byproducts in 177 steel-walled underground tanks, some dating to the heyday of Betty Grable.

Collectively, they’ve leaked an estimated 1 million gallons of waste into the desert soil, creating radioactive plumes that are gradually headed for the Columbia River.

The Department of Energy put a stop to the big leaks years ago by pumping out liquids from the tanks, leaving crusty, gooey, toxic sludges inside.

Water has been penetrating one of these supposedly “stabilized” tanks. The lyrically named T-111 has reportedly resumed leaking at a rate of 150 to 300 gallons a year.

This is a reminder that the nation’s largest concentration of nuclear waste is stored under insanely makeshift conditions. The oldest tanks, including T-111, were engineered to last 20 years. They were built in 1943 and 1944.
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July
22nd

Tax transparency good for Romney – and Congress, too

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Congressional leaders are right to call on Mitt Romney to release more than two years of tax returns. But their entreaties would be far more credible if those lawmakers were equally as transparent about their own finances.

They say Romney’s refusal to release more tax records suggests he has something to hide. If that’s the case, doesn’t it suggest the same thing when only 17 of 535 members of Congress agree to release their most recent tax returns in response to a request by McClatchy Newspapers?

None of the top Senate or House leaders – Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell – agreed to the disclosure, nor did any members of Washington state’s congressional delegation. In fact, none of them even replied to the request one way or another.
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July
6th

Bipartisan defeatism

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, April 2007, about Iraq:

Now I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows: that this war is lost, that the surge is not accomplishing anything.

Republican chairman Michael Steele, last week, about Barack Obama and Afghanistan:

If he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who’s tried, over

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June
5th

Harry Reid, Hanford and the triumph of science

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

An expert scientific commission to visit Hanford next month has a fascinating scientific mandate from President Obama: Look everywhere in America for the best place to bury radioactive reactor wastes.

Everywhere, that is, except Nevada. Nevada, the state where the federal government has spent $10.5 billion developing Yucca Mountain as a permanent nuclear waste repository. The dry-as-talcum-powder state identified 20-plus years ago as the best place in America to bury radioactive waste.

We know this is a highly scientific mission because Obama has assured the nation that – unlike George W. Bush

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Jan.
20th

A brutal lesson for Democratic leaders

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

To paraphrase George W. Bush, the Democrats took a thumpin’ Tuesday in Massachusetts.
It hard to imagine how a single state election could have served up more grief for President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress.

Massachusetts was, and probably still is, the bluest state in the Union. It had not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

The election pitted Scott Brown, a flea on an underdog’s belly, against Martha Coakley, who’d won statewide election as attorney general. At stake was the Senate seat occupied by uber-Democrat Ted Kennedy for close to half a century.

Brown campaigned against the Democratic plans for national health care reform – the signature issue of Barack Obama and Kennedy himself. The Republican’s campaign took off when he began billing himself as the crucial 41st vote to block the legislation in the Senate. And, he won decisively. However inept a campaign Coakley ran, someone like Brown could not have upset a Massachusetts Democrat with a pulse unless the national winds were blowing hurricane-hard against Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their agendas.

Cause and effect: Within hours of Brown’s election, Obama was signaling his interest in a compromise health reform bill. Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, said, “Republicans have a lot of good ideas.” That’s likely to become a common theme – on a lot of issues – in coming months.
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Aug.
31st

Obama’s Plan B for nuke waste: Hanford

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington doesn’t have the geology to store high-level nuclear wastes. Too much groundwater; too much risk of radioactivity spreading into aquifers and the Columbia River.

Such was the verdict of the scientists and policymakers who rejected Hanford as a nuclear waste dump more than 20 years ago. But President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are fast reversing that verdict.

Their goal is to kill a planned permanent nuclear waste repository in Nevada, not create one in Washington. But it’s the same difference.

Hanford, the nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington, is already saddled with thousands of tons of intensely radioactive reactor-core byproducts. All of it was supposed to be buried in bone-dry caves under Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. Terminate the Yucca Mountain project, and you eliminate what was supposed to be the destination of Washington’s reactor wastes as well as wastes from more than 100 other reactor complexes across the United States.

As McClatchy Newspapers’ Les Blumenthal reported Monday, the Obama administration has no Plan B for Yucca Mountain.
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