Sen. Melvin responds to letters - Tucson Local Media: Opinion

Sen. Melvin responds to letters

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Senator Al Melvin

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 3:55 pm, Mon Oct 22, 2012.

You, an LD 11 voter and reader of the Explorer newspaper, deserve to know the truth about Arizona K-12 public education funding, energy, nuclear recycling and all subjects being debated during this election cycle. I am writing about these three specific subjects because they have appeared in recent political ads and letters to the editor. I want you to know the truth about them.

Regarding Arizona K-12 public education funding, the Republican majority in the Arizona Legislature has protected per pupil funding at over $9,000 per pupil (the combination of federal, state and local funds) each year for the past four years. The state portion of this figure is about $6,700. We did this even though we reduced the state’s general fund budget by $3 Billion in order to balance it at $8.6 Billion. In order to protect this level of funding, we even mortgaged state buildings, including the Senate, House of Representatives and Executive Tower buildings. Please refer to www.SenatorMelvin.com and The Myth of Education Cuts and Why Money Can’t Buy an A+ at www.goldwaterinstitute.org.

Regarding energy, many on the left say that solar and wind will bring prosperity to Arizona. Solar and wind will eventually have their role to play in base load electricity production, but that is decades away. One cannot expect to provide enough electricity from solar to meet the electricity requirements of major manufacturers like Raytheon, Intel, et.al., that require uninterrupted, plentiful, reliable and affordable electricity in order to properly operate. The three nuclear reactors at the Palo Verde nuclear facility west of Phoenix occupy 8 square miles of land and generate 4 giga-watts of electricity per year. To produce the same amount of electricity with solar would require 250 square miles of solar panels. It would be an environmental and ecological disaster to all of the flora and fauna in the area. From a national security point of view, the USA must continue to pursue nuclear energy. The US Navy has been successfully under way on nuclear power for over half a century, without a negative incident or loss of life. Unfortunately, the USA has not completed a new commercial nuclear reactor in over 30 years. In the meantime, China is constructing 30 and India is constructing 20. We cannot remain a major world power relying on electricity produced by solar and wind. We need additional commercial nuclear reactors for plentiful, reliable and affordable electricity. We also need medical isotopes to fight cancer, heart disease, etc. With additional nuclear reactors, Arizona can become electricity supplier to the southwest region of the US. By doing this, we can barter electricity to run desalination plants in California and Mexico for some of their Colorado River water rights to insure plentiful water for Arizona well into the future. Please refer to www.ansaz.org.

Regarding used nuclear fuel recycling, the French have been doing this successfully and safely for over 40 years. Instead of burying 100% of it as was planned for Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the French recycle 96% into reusable fuel rods. This is important in order for nuclear power to expand. The Obama administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, www.brc.gov, called for a replacement for Yucca Mountain or recycling. Please refer to www.azedcoalition.org. It is proposed to do recycling in Arizona similar to what the French are doing. This would result in a $20 Billion investment in Arizona. The Federal government has already collected this money over the past 30 years by charging rate payers one mil per kilowatt hour. The facility would take 8 to 10 years to build and would employ around 18,000 construction works. Once completed, it would employ 5,000 direct employees and 30,000 indirect employees. The facility would operate for over 50 years resulting in an infusion of over $500 Million per year into the area. The facility would most likely be located in Kingman, Safford, Holbrook or west of Picacho Peak, because of the large salt deposits in these four locations. The residents of the final location would have to approve of the facility being located there. This concept will soon be modeled at the Decision Theater at ASU. The states of New Mexico and Utah are also looking at competing for this business. Finally, if this takes place in Arizona, the state will charge a user fee of $50,000 per metric ton times 2,000 tons per year (estimated annual volume) generating $100 Million a year for a new Arizona Education Fund to generate additional money for education in Arizona, over and above regular general fund money.

As a current Arizona State Senator, retired Navy Captain and Eagle Scout, this is the truth regarding the above noted three important subjects.

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