(Victor Joecks, Las Vegas Review-Journal) – The return of Yucca Mountain should be the clarion call that unites Nevada in demanding that the federal government give us back our land.
As the Nevada Land Management Task Force noted in 2014, the federal government owns 87 percent of the land in Nevada. That’s by far the highest of any state. Since Nevadans are less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, politicians in Washington D.C. face little electoral risk for putting nuclear waste in our basement. After all, they own it and most of the rest of Nevada.
Federal land ownership isn’t just a Nevada problem. In the 12 Western states, the federal government owns an average of 50 percent of the land. Average federal land ownership in states east of the Rockies is less than 5 percent.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In the 1820s, the federal government owned up to 90 percent of the lands in the “Western” states of the time, places like Illinois and Missouri. After years of political fighting, those states now average 5 percent federal ownership.