Politics & Policy

Murray v. Reid: Showdown Over Yucca Mountain

The Washington Times examines the conflicting campaign perogatives of two Democrats the GOP is gunning to unseat – Patty Murray and Harry Reid – regarding the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election hinges in part on his efforts to stop the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository from being built. But a fellow Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray, could hurt her re-election chances if she can’t show that she’s trying hard enough to get the project restarted.

Murray, the No. 4 Democrat in the Senate, is at odds with the rest of her party over the Yucca Mountain issue, but the political climate in her home state has forced her hand:

Mrs. Murray and her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, are pushing to get the Yucca site up and running so it can take waste from the Hanford Site, a partially decommissioned nuclear plant on the Columbia River in central Washington.

Hanford has been called the nation’s most toxic radioactive site, but it wasn’t until this year that the issue became a political liability for Mrs. Murray. Mr. Rossi began to argue that the incumbent senator hadn’t done enough to promote the Yucca alternative.

Rossi’s campaign is looking to exploit the the division:

[Murray] said she has voted “consistently” in favor of pursuing Yucca Mountain, “despite my own party leadership and despite the current president.”

Just before senators adjourned for their summer recess, Mrs. Murray introduced an amendment in committee to a spending bill that would have restarted funding for the Yucca repository.

Her fellow Democrats defeated her amendment, leaving Mr. Rossi to argue she’s too beholden to her own party and Mr. Reid to look out for her state’s interests. He said that explains why she didn’t object to allowing the confirmations of the three Nuclear Regulatory Commission members.

“She votes with her leadership, she is in leadership,” Mr. Rossi said.


Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...


The Latest