About Bernie Sanders' support for Sierra Blanca as a nuclear waste site
A lot of Hillary's supporters are trying to hit Bernie Sanders with a non-issue. But people don't know the truth and they're falling for this. So let me quote Bernie Sanders, since this is a site for REAL history, about why he supported this. These are his unedited remarks in support of this, from http://www.c-span.org/congress/bills/billAction/?print/1410681:
|3:21 PM EDT|
Bernie Sanders, I-VT 1st
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 629. Mr. Chairman, the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act and its 1985 amendments make commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal a State and not a Federal responsibility.
As we have heard, all that Texas and Maine and Vermont are asking for today is to be treated as 9 other compacts were treated affecting 41 States. This is not new business. We have done it 9 times, 41 States, and Texas, Maine, and Vermont ask us to do it today.
Mr. Chairman, let me touch for a moment upon the environmental aspects of this issue. Let me address it from the perspective of someone who is an opponent of nuclear power, who opposes the construction of power plants and, if he had his way, would shut down the existing nuclear power plants as quickly and as safely as we could.
One of the reasons that many of us oppose nuclear power plants is that when this technology was developed, there was not a lot of thought given as to how we dispose of the nuclear waste. Neither the industry nor the Government, in my view, did the right thing by allowing the construction of the plants and not figuring out how we get rid of the waste.
But the issue we are debating here today is not that issue. The reality, as others have already pointed out, is that the waste is here. We cannot wish it away. It exists in power plants in Maine and Vermont, it exists in hospitals, it is here.
The gentleman from Texas [Mr. Reyes] a few moments ago said, `Who wants radioactive waste in their district?' I guess he is right. But do Members know what, by going forward with the nuclear power industry, that is what we have. So the real environmental issue here is not to wish it away, but to make the judgment, the important environmental judgment, as to what is the safest way of disposing of the nuclear waste that has been created. That is the environmental challenge that we face.
The strong environmental position should not be and cannot be to do nothing, and to put our heads in the sand and pretend that the problem does not exist. It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste.
Leaving the radioactive waste at the site where it was produced, despite the fact that that site may be extremely unsafe in terms of long-term isolation of the waste and was never intended to be a long-term depository of low-level waste, is horrendous environmental policy. What sense is it to say that you have to keep the waste where it is now, even though that might be very environmentally damaging? That does not make any sense at all.
No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment.
There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste.
This is not a political assertion, it is a geological and environmental reality. Furthermore, even if this compact is not approved, it is likely that Texas, which has a great deal of low-level radioactive waste, and we should make the point that 80 percent of the waste is coming from Texas, 10 percent from Vermont, 10 percent from Maine, the reality is that Texas will go forward with or without this compact in building a facility to dispose of their low-level radioactive waste.
If they do not have the compact, which gives them the legal right to deny low-level radioactive waste from coming from anyplace else in the country, it seems to me they will be in worse environmental shape than they are right now. Right now, with the compact, they can deal with the constitutional issue of limiting the kinds of waste they get.
From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.