LAS VEGAS - Accusing the Bush administration of disregarding science in its policy decisions, Sen. John Kerry vowed yesterday to protect nearby Yucca Mountain from the potential hazards of storing nuclear waste there.
During a campaign appearance with emergency first-responders, Kerry criticized President Bush as breaking a promise to Nevadans in 2000 to examine the safety and science of nuclear waste storage.
He accused Bush of disregarding science on a host of other issues as well, including stem cell research, global warming and the environment.
"Yucca Mountain to me is a symbol of the recklessness and arrogance with which they are willing to proceed with respect to the safety issues and concerns of the American people," Kerry said. "And if I am president of the United States, Nevada's not going to have a broken promise; Nevada is going to have a president who stands up and fights for the citizens who live here and for common sense."
The Bush campaign, however, said the Yucca Mountain issue is just another example of Kerry's willingness to say anything for political gain, noting that he had voted six times in the Senate to support the nuclear storage site.
But Kerry said that "when it has counted" he has opposed efforts to store waste at Yucca Mountain, an important regional issue, dismissing the six votes as procedural matters.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada defended Kerry, saying he has been on Nevada's side "every time we've needed him." And he excoriated the president for backing away from comments he made as a presidential candidate in 2000 to examine the science before allowing Yucca Mountain to be turned into a repository for nuclear waste.
"Early on," Reid said, "he misled the people of the state of Nevada and lied to the people of the state of Nevada."
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