Sound science should not be a sound bite

President George W. Bush visited the Silver State this week, and didn't back down on his decision to create a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

"I said I would make a decision based upon science, not politics. I said I would listen to the scientists, those involved with determining whether or not this project could move forward in a safe manner and that's exactly what I did," Bush told a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas.

But this rhetoric sounds suspiciously like that used about weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to war in Iraq. Investigations on this subject show that evidence contradicting the evidence of weapons was ignored as the Bush Administration built its case for war.

The same could be said about Yucca Mountain. Despite the "sound science" pledge, opponents of Yucca Mountain have shown numerous instances where scientific information was ignored, and policies and procedures changed to move the Yucca Mountain project forward. Instead of looking to see if there were problems, the Department of Energy weeded out contradictory information in its recommendation to Bush.

Of course, this is election season, and the rhetoric is flying fast and furious over this issue. Bush made his statements yesterday to show that he made the right decision, while challenger John Kerry has voted on both sides of the issue.

The danger exists for Yucca Mountain to be turned into a political football, and no matter which sides wins, the science could very well be ignored. And when you are talking about handling the most dangerous material on the planet, we need to pay attention to the people who know the most about this waste.

It's time for sound science to become a standard for determining the fate of nuclear waste in this country, not just a sound bite.


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