Oil, gas, and WIPP

The following letter appeared in the April 17-23 edition of the Santa Fe Reporter. The letter was in response to the article “WIPP it Good” which appeared in the previous edition of the paper.

I read with interest Laura Paskus’ article on WIPP. In particular, I noted her statement that the “oil and gas industry offers relatively few jobs.” This statement is highly inaccurate. According to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the industry directly employs between 12 and 15 thousand New Mexicans. If those workers all worked for one company, that would be the largest private employer in our state by far (Intel, the next largest, employs approximately 3,000).

Now that we have cleared that up, it is worth discussing the issue of nuclear storage itself. Currently, high-level nuclear waste is stored on site at more than one hundred facilities nationwide, none of which were designed for the purpose of holding such waste. It is widely-acknowledged that this is not an optimal situation and that a site like Yucca Mountain or a facility designed for the purpose in the Carlsbad area would be a superior and safer option.

While the jobs and economic impact of such a facility were it to be located in our state would be welcome, safety issues must dominate. On that, Paskus and I would agree. I can hardly imagine she thinks the current situation is preferable.