(Tyrus W. Cobb) – I wonder why candidates for office are so tepid and cautious in their campaign platforms. They all seem to be for safe and similar stands—fiscal restraint, smaller and more efficient government, better leadership, etc. Our eyes glaze over.
If a candidate for state or local office wants to change Nevada politics and recharge the economy in these recessionary times, here are three proposals I think they should back.
First, question the renewable energy mandates. Nevada is committed to achieving 20% of its electricity requirements from “renewable” resources by 2020 and 25% by 2025. In an era of plentiful and cheap natural gas, and with NV Energy having 65% of its generation in natural gas plants, does it make sense to mandate that consumers buy power from wind and solar, sources that are 4 or 5 times as expensive as gas? Sure, in a state with excellent geothermal capacity, that source makes sense, but in this recessionary environment, wind and solar power provide little benefit except to Chinese producers of panels and subsidy-laden companies like Solyndra.
Second, candidates ought to encourage a robust discussion of the Nevada Energy Park (NEP) concept. Many Nevadans are unaware that the Obama administration has given up on long-term storage of nuclear waste, believing that a scientific solution will be found within 120 years. I agree, and the only question is whether you leave that material on some 104 nuclear plants where it is within 50 miles of 165 million people, or move it temporarily to Yucca, a secure military site 90 miles from any major population center.
But, if Yucca is reopened, the state must insist that the government establish a research center there as well, exploring the exciting new reprocessing technologies now available. And, Nevadans should receive economic benefits, similar to what Alaskans get for oil and gas extraction there. The state lost 2,500 of the highest paying jobs when appropriations were cut off for the repository. It’s time that our leaders not only permit but champion an open discussion of the merits of establishing an Energy Park in place of a nuclear waste dump.
I would advise candidates to follow the lead of the Nevada Policy Research Institute which is renewing the effort to enforce adherence to the existing Constitutional prohibition against individuals serving in two branches of government. That important clause is designed to prevent citizens from exercising powers in one branch of the government, usually the Legislature, while employed by the Executive branch. That means all employees, including teachers, public safety officials, county employees, etc. The state Constitution is clear on this point, but the prohibition has not been enforced. If further clarity is needed, candidates should demand that the appropriate legislative bodies—at all levels–insure that happens.
Finally, it’s time to do away with awarding public employees collective bargaining rights, which local government workers now enjoy (there is a move to extend that to state employees as well). Our elected leaders can manage our public workforce in the way they see fit; there are more than enough protections for employees built in to ensure proper treatment. And, let’s also eliminate binding arbitration, which given arbitrators decisions, means the employee groups always win.
Candidates, it’s time for boldness in your advocacy in place of tired and boring slogans. The initiatives I suggest here are a starting point. Get on board and support this set of positions, and raise other, thoughtful reforms. The times demand new ideas and fresh thinking.
Are you the candidate that will advocate for innovative approaches or are you subjecting us to the same old tired sloganeering?
(Dr. Tyrus W. Cobb served as Special Assistant to President Reagan for national security affairs from 1983-1989. )