]]]]]]]]]]]]     NUCLEAR POWER: CUOMO VS. THE FEDS       [[[[[[[[[
                        Ben J. Wattenberg              (7/26/1989)

         [From the New York Post, 25 July 1989, p. 21:1]

             [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   America has  never had a  straight showdown  on nuclear power.
We may get one soon on the  central issue: Who's in charge of the
environment and energy security?
   The players are  mythic political gunslingers.   At one end of
the  dusty street  is the  federal government,  finally lumbering
into position.  At the  other end is New  York's fiery Gov. Mario
Cuomo, already blazing away with intent to kill.
   Unless the Feds win the legal shootout -- quickly -- Americans
will witness an ongoing drama  of envirocide, econocide, and even
politicide.
   Americans  are  concerned  about  oil  slicks,  air pollution,
global warming, oil imports, trade and budget deficits.
   Nuclear  power,  clean  and  safe,  can  help  alleviate those
problems.  Yet, at Shoreham,  L.I., a headstrong state government
is set to pulverize a brand new $5.5 billion nuclear plant.
   The standard explanation  for the situation  is that Cuomo has
been  mugged or  wooed, or  both, by  nuclear activists  who have
demagogued Long Island's voters.
   If Shoreham were Chernobyled, it has been said, the evacuation
plan  could  not  work, a  nuclear  cloud  would  spew radiation,
pregnant women would get  caught in a monster  traffic jam on the
Long Island Expressway, and two generations of suburbanites would
glow.
   Don't believe it, either the Chernobyl part or the Cuomo part.
   A long conversation  with Cuomo convinces  me that he believes
he is acting from conviction, not hot-seat political expediency.
   Cuomo says he's not anti-nuclear; that New York runs America's
best  nuclear power  system;  that he's  fought environmentalists
when necessary.
   But he believes Shoreham is  a mistake; he's the governor, and
he'll take the tough job.
   So score one for Cuomo as a brave, tough fellow.  And, because
of who Cuomo  is, and who he  may yet be, note  that it's nice to
have someone brave and tough as president.
   But  brave and  tough ain't  necessarily wise.   Brave, tough,
wrong presidents can take the nation to bad places.
   In this case  Cuomo has acted drastically:  The state has used
its rate-setting  muscle to arrange  to buy out  Shoreham for $1,
and plans  to swing  a wrecking  ball on  it before  there can be
second thoughts.
   That has set the stage for confrontation.
   Both the Department of Energy (DOE) and Congress are preparing
to act. The two designated hitters are Deputy Secretary of Energy
Henson Moore,  and Rep.  Don Ritter  (R-Pa.), acting  on separate
tracks.
   Moore says the situation is  unprecedented.  Who ever heard of
obliterating a fully completed, fully licensed nuclear plant?  He
says what's  happening in  New York is  a result  of hysteria and
strong-arm politics.
   The plant and the evacuation  plans, says Moore, are certified
safe and will be an economic source of clean power.
   He knows that if New York  can unilaterally shred a $5 billion
dollar project then the hope of reviving nuclear power nationally
will get one more hammer blow.  He's right.
   One plan the DOE is considering would meet drastic action with
drastic action.  If Cuomo is  going to destroy Shoreham, the Feds
will take it over before he does it.
   Meanwhile, Ritter,  with some  Democratic support,  has pushed
through   a  subcommittee   amendment  prohibiting   the  Nuclear
Regulatory Commission from  allowing the New  York power grab.  A
full vote may come after the August recess.
   There is a  stunning role reversal at  work.  Liberal Cuomo is
for  state's  rights; conservative  Republicans  are  for federal
intervention.
   It's time for a public fight.  There are either going to be 50
nuclear energy policies in America  or one.  The state's righters
have their eloquent champion in Cuomo, the true believer.
   But there is another  true believer yet to  be heard from.  He
is George Bush, who endorsed nuclear power in the 1988 debates.
   It's a big-time issue.  The  public deserves, finally, to hear
it argued by the big-time players.
   That means, by George, the  shootists ought to be the governor
and the president.


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