(Nancy Dallas/Nevada News Bureau) – Gov. Jim Gibbons spoke to a meeting of the Mount Rose Republican Women Tuesday evening and highlighted the opportunities he believes Nevada has in the area of renewable energy production:
We’ve got unprecedented amounts of renewable energy in Nevada – solar in the south, geothermal here in the north, wind in between.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we import electricity into Nevada, plus a billion of our dollars goes out of the state of Nevada to provide electricity to keep the lights on, to run the elevators and escalators to do everything electrical in energy in the state – a billion dollars. We have an opportunity right now, ladies and gentlemen, to capitalize on that, produce our own energy, to put that billion back into our economy and export the surplus to California, Florida, Arizona, Florida, Mexico and Utah.
We are (poised) to become the Texas of renewable energy. This is our way of building our way out of this recession, creating jobs and a new industry that is going to diversify our economy that will help us out of these economic swings that right now every industry we have in the state is subject to.
That’s where we’re going, that’s where we’ve been. We have to stay the course. This is not the time after three years and 26 days to change course. This is not the time to believe that going along to get along is the right attitude for the state of Nevada. When you do that you are going to tell these companies that are coming here that are looking at investing in this state that we don’t want you, that you have no predictability, that we are going to tax you….that we really don’t care except about how much money our government spends or can’t spend.
That’s the message you are sending if you change course….Yes, I have low poll numbers, but you don’t tell me one governor that’s stood up, kept his promise, kept the state moving forward. It doesn’t happen. Tough choices that were unpopular, that makes them a target for the skepticism of the media. Tell me one…(applause)
To a question specifically relating to the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, the governor responded:
I am pro-nuclear but I have to be against Yucca Mountain and it’s not because it’s politically motivated. I’m a scientist, remember. I know you can store nuclear waste safely. I am anti Yucca Mountain because it was designed in 1970 for the shutdown of the nuclear energy industry. It was designed to tear it (nuclear power plants) all down, put it in this hole, cover it up, walk away and never again would America be involved again with nuclear energy.
There are no new nuclear power plants being constructed. There’s a lot being talked about, but I guarantee you when G.W. Bush left office the opportunity to even talk about new nuclear power plants went out the door. It will take an interminable amount of time to build another once you get past all the litigation.
In 10 to 20 years every one of those power plants will have a shelf life that shuts them down. They are required by law and by regulations to either remodel or shut down. Yucca Mountain is the means to the end to shutting down the nuclear energy industry, which means we are going to have to replace 20-percent of the electricity generated in this country with fossil fuels. Nuclear energy is a clean energy. It is one of the best.
The problem is we should have invested the $14 billion we put into that hole into research and development of how to deal with nuclear waste. If we had done that we would have had reprocessing, we would have had new fuel systems and fuel blankets that allowed for the consumption or the burning to zero of plutonium, which is the byproduct of reprocessing. And we would have been able to deal with the other radioactive elements that come along as byproducts.
Had we done that, we would have had a substantially different energy picture in this century. But we didn’t. We focused on drilling a hole and putting away all the materials that come out of these plants in that hole.
So I’m against it because there is no way I want to see them cut out of our energy picture the 20-percent which is generated today by nuclear energy. Force them to deal with the waste. Force them to research into new fuels. Force them to go into transmutation. Force them to do new fuel systems. That’s the only way we can do it. Don’t support Yucca just to make money, because you won’t. They own the rods. They own the land. You can’t tax the Federal government. That’s an unfortunate reality.
We have an abundance of geothermal energy in this state. Why don’t we take our resources and produce that ‘green energy’ and sell it to them at a premium. Why shouldn’t we have the tax base, the jobs, for the energy that we have in abundance here in Nevada? Why don’t we take our resources, as Texas took its fossil fuels, and make us the Texas of renewable energy.
We can do that. I think that’s what the future of this great state is – in a diversified economy is making us an energy state, because only energy states today are the ones whose economy is not suffering from the doldrums like Nevada is, along with about 46 other states.