Gov. Brian Sandoval says Nevada must become the aggressor in the fight over the Yucca Mountain nuclear dump.
He told Bob Halstead, head of the agency for Nuclear Projects, he expects backers of the project to renew their push to restart the licensing in January.
“We’re going to take the fight to them,” he said. “I don’t want to play defense any more.”
Nevada has battled the project more than 30 years now. It was effectively put to death during the Obama administration when the president cut off funding for the licensing of the dump north of Las Vegas. But President Trump revived the project, putting $120 million in his budget for the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Congress went one better as Yucca supporters bumped that to $220 million.
The bill passed the House of Representatives with some 340 votes but stalled in the Senate and was put on hold at least until after the November elections.
“I think we have to anticipate something is going to happen after the first of the year,” said Sandoval. “Let’s continue to slug them in the stomach and pop them between the eyes.”
Halstead said despite the efforts of Trump and congressional Yucca supporters, “We’ve battled them to a draw.”
He said Nevada has a strong legal and technical case to continue the fight. He pointed to testimony by three Nevada congressional members that resulted in substantial changes to the law designed to make it impossible for Nevada to argue against the bill by Illinois Rep, John Shimkus. Halstead said the original bill would’ve “gutted western state water law,” raising objections from several other committee members.
He also pointed to efforts by Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Dean Heller that pulled the funding from the Yucca legislation on the Senate side.
The exchange came at the August Board of Examiners meeting during discussion of whether to continue the state contract with former Senior Deputy AG Marta Adams to focus on blocking Yucca Mountain. Adams retired after managing the Yucca Mountain fight for some two decades.
The board consisting of Sandoval, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske unanimously approved a $150,000 extension of her contract.