- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NEVADA

Ruling revives nuclear waste site

LAS VEGAS | A Nuclear Regulatory Commission legal panel put a proposal for a national nuclear waste dump in Nevada back on track Tuesday, ruling that the federal Department of Energy can’t withdraw its application without hearings and a final NRC decision.

The energy secretary doesn’t have the authority to pull the plug on a process that Congress started when it passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board said.

The states of Washington and South Carolina, plus Aiken County, S.C., the Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners filed challenges to the plan to kill the project at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain site.

Nevada has battled for years to stop the plan. Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, issued statements Tuesday promising to keep up the fight. Plans call for burying 77,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel in tunnels bored beneath an ancient volcanic ridge 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

TRADE

Lawmaker predicts move on Cuba ban

A congressional panel is poised to take the first step toward ending a decades-old U.S. ban on travel to Cuba and removing other hurdles to food sales to the Caribbean island, a senior lawmaker said Tuesday.

“This bill has been needed for a long time,” House of Representatives Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson, Minnesota Democrat said in a statement ahead of committee action on Wednesday.

The bipartisan bill that Mr. Peterson helped craft with Rep. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, has broad support from U.S. farm and business groups that favor ending the nearly 50-year-old U.S. embargo on communist Cuba.

The bill is expected to clear the committee and be sent to the full House, where it will face strong resistance from conservative lawmakers and Cuban-Americans who oppose any step to ease restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba until democracy is restored on the island.

ILLINOIS

Candidate regrets “careless” comments

NORTHBROOK, Ill. | Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk publicly apologized Tuesday for being “careless” in describing his military service after making embellishments that could threaten his bid for President Obama’s former seat.

After a month of eluding questions, Mr. Kirk offered the mea culpa at his first news conference since reports surfaced about his false claims, including a prestigious award that he didn’t win.

“I have made mistakes concerning certain aspects of my accomplishments and experience and I apologize for those mistakes and I pledge to correct those errors,” Mr. Kirk told supporters and reporters at a suburban Chicago hotel.

Mr. Kirk, a five-term congressman from Chicago’s northern suburbs, is locked in a tight race with Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, whose own campaign has been crippled by his ties to his family’s troubled bank.

NEW JERSEY

Christie seeks tax limit in special session

TRENTON, N.J. | Republican Gov. Chris Christie is calling a special session of the New Jersey Legislature Thursday, seeking to force lawmakers to consider his proposed constitutional amendment limiting property tax increases to 2.5 percent per year.

Mr. Christie needs their approval to put the measure on the ballot in November’s election. The Democratic majority on Monday passed a bill to cap tax hikes at 2.9 percent.

The Republican governor objects to that approach because it includes more exceptions and a law can be changed more easily than a constitutional amendment.

New Jersey has the nation’s highest average property tax bill - nearly $7,300.

KENTUCKY

New cash for Paul from Web blitz

FRANKFORT, Ky. | Rand Paul, a political outsider who largely financed his Senate primary race with Internet donations, has banked $172,000 in his first Web-based fundraiser of the general election season.

The Republican received contributions Monday from more than 2,000 people over a 24-hour period. Campaign manager Jesse Benton said the average donation was less than $90.

The showing was far from Mr. Paul’s best since he entered the race last year. He had raised more than $1.2 million in a series of Web-based fundraisers during the GOP primary. The largest of the three, held in August, netted more than $400,000 in a 24-hour period.

Mr. Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Bunning. Mr. Conway is Kentucky’s attorney general.