March 16, 2017
By Nathan O'Neal
LAS VEGAS (KSNV NEWS3LV) — President Trump’s budget proposal includes $120 million in nuclear waste funding, part of which could be used toward the licensing of Yucca Mountain as a storage site in Nevada.
A bipartisan coalition of Nevada lawmakers is organizing to stop it.
An underground storage facility for nuclear waste sits about 100 miles outside Las Vegas. The controversial storage operations at Yucca Mountain was dropped under the Obama administration but now a new budget proposal from the Trump administration looks to revive it.
“We absolutely reject what their proposal is,” said Republican Sen. Dean Heller. “This is opening up old scabs and there’s no upside to the state of Nevada.
Nevada’s entire congressional delegation and Gov. Brian Sandoval united beyond party lines to oppose the White House’s plan which could make Nevada the country’s dumping ground for nuclear waste.
“It is throwing more money down a hole … which literally Yucca Mountain is. It is dead. It is going to be very difficult to reopen,” said Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
Any nuclear waste would likely have to travel through the heart of Las Vegas and through millions of residents and tourists to get to Yucca Mountain.
The casino industry’s top lobbying group – the American Gaming Association-- calls it reckless and dangerous.
“The sheer thought of bringing radioactive waste within near proximity of the world’s premier tourist destination really is laughable,” said Whit Askew of the AGA.
Sens. Cortez Masto and Heller co-authored a letter to urge the Department of Energy to ditch the plan.
“We'll fight. I'll do everything I possibly can. I'll fight until the bitter end,” said Heller.
President Trump’s budget proposal still has to make it through Congress. If it makes its way through Congress, Nevada’s attorney general has already signaled along legal fight to prevent the re-opening of Yucca Mountain.
Several officials have commented on the matter:
GOV. BRIAN SANDOVAL (R)
"Regarding Yucca Mountain, let me make my position clear – for the remainder of my term I will vigorously fight the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Nevada. Any attempt to resurrect this ill-conceived project will be met with relentless opposition, and maximum resources. Continuing down a path that seeks to force this unsafe and unwanted project on Nevada is a waste of time and money and only gets the country farther away from solving its nuclear waste problem.
I encourage the President to give the nuclear waste problem the same review process he has successfully applied to flawed contracts and government proposals so far. The private sector has demonstrated that they can address the problem of spent nuclear fuel more efficiently, at far less expense to the federal government, and they can do so in partnership with willing host states."
SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D)
"As the Trump Administration continues to crumble, this budget proposes to spread the chaos across the government and starve or eliminate the institutions representing our core values. It would invest $120 million on the failed Yucca Mountain program while slashing programs that feed, clean, and clothe our home-bound seniors and educate our children."
SENATOR DEAN HELLER (R)
"As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it. Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation's nuclear waste dump. This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain. Members of both parties keep trying to revive this dead project via the budget and appropriations process, but I will continue to fight those efforts," said Senator Dean Heller.
REP. DINA TITUS (D)
"As the Trump Administration continues to crumble, this budget proposes to spread the chaos across the federal government and starve or eliminate the institutions representing our core values. It would invest $120 million on the failed Yucca Mountain boondoggle while slashing programs that feed our homebound seniors, keep our air clean, and educate our children."
REP. RUBEN KIHUEN (D)
"Yucca Mountain has been dead for years. Now, President Trump wants to run roughshod over the people of Nevada and throw away funding that could be better spent on infrastructure and creating jobs. Nevada is not a dumping ground for the rest of the country's nuclear waste and our rights shouldn't be trampled over just because President Trump wants to put an unsavory waste facility in our backyard. The Nevada delegation was united in sponsoring the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act earlier this year, demanding that states be consulted before nuclear waste repositories can be built by the federal government. I urge President Trump and Secretary Perry to reconsider their reckless and haphazard scheme to throw away federal tax dollars, especially without thinking about the safety and well-being of the people of Nevada."
REP. JACKY ROSEN (D)
"I will fight alongside Nevada's delegation to put a stop to nuclear waste from ever being dumped in our backyard. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that our fiscal house is in order and that vital programs that affect our economy, safety, and the health of our citizens will continue to receive funding."
REP. MARK AMODEI (R)
"Let me be clear, I do not believe Yucca Mountain should become a simple dumping site for the nation's nuclear waste. The fact of the matter is that Nevadans cannot simply ignore Yucca Mountain and think it is off the table. Many Americans throughout the nation continue to work to open the facility and bring it online. Instead, we should work to dictate the terms of the repository under the best conditions for our state. This facility has the potential to not only be a job creator in Nye County, but also throughout the state if done properly."