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WA gov race goes nuclear

OLYMPIA -- The likely leaders in Washington's 2012 governor's race "went nuclear" today, although on slightly different aspects of the nuke waste issue.

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, the likely Republican nominee for the job, announced in Seattle that he was filing new court action over the federal government's decision to step away from the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. He filed a writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., arguing that the Department of Energy is improperly "withholding action" on finishing off the repository.

“It’s the federal government’s responsibility to clean up Hanford,” McKenna said in a prepared statement. “This lawsuit seeks to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to immediately resume consideration of the application to build and operate a repository at Yucca Mountain.”

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the leading Democrat for the nomination, meanwhile laid into a special commission set up to figure out what to do about nuclear waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (yes, blue ribbon is part of the official name) released its draft report on nuclear waste with some really terrific recommendations -- find a repository site through a "consent-based approach" build a permanent repository promptly, build at least one interim repository promptly, do some innovative stuff in nuclear energy. 

Thanks for the hard work, Inslee said, but the report is "deeply flawed" and will lead to the United States wasting billions of dollars more.

“The Commission declares that a lack of community support killed Yucca and that a new ‘consent-based approach’ for future facilities is required," he said in his prepared statement.  "The Commission admits that a consolidated geologic disposal facility is the solution, but seems unable to admit that a solid, scientifically assessed site already exists which could mean billions more in cost for ratepayers.”

So it would seem McKenna and Inslee agree on at least one thing: Washington should get to ship the nuclear waste at Hanford to Nevada, and keep it there for centuries.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.