Trump budget includes Yucca Mountain startup
February 12, 2018
WASHINGTON — The $4.4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2019 President Trump proposed on Monday includes $120 million to restart the licensing for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada.
The $120 million would also go to establishing an interim storage program to address nuclear waste produced by power plants nationwide. The fiscal year 2019 begins on Oct. 1.
The budget also includes a proposal to take $230 million in unobligated balances from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act program generated from the sale of public land. Along with the Yucca Mountain proposal, Gov. Brian Sandoval opposes that proposal as well.
"My office did receive notice from the Department of Energy that Yucca Mountain licensing funding would be in the budget, but we continue to disagree on the necessity to invest any money at all on this ill-conceived project," Sandoval said in a statement. "Yucca Mountain is incapable of safely storing the world's most toxic substance and Nevada will continue to oppose any efforts to dump nuclear waste in our state. I am disappointed that the administration's budget appears to resurrect this dormant project and we will leave no stone unturned in fighting any attempt to revive this failed idea.
"I also have great concern about the Administration's attempt to raid funding from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. SNPLMA is a model partnership between the BLM, the State of Nevada, and local governments and, as required by federal law, the funds received from land sales stay in Nevada to be reinvested in critical conservation projects. I know Nevada's Congressional delegation will work to ensure SNPLMA funds remain invested where they were intended by Congress — at home here in Nevada."
U.S. Senator Dean Heller, R-Nv. and his Republican primary challenger in this year's election, Danny Tarkanian, came down on opposite sides of the issue in statements released on Monday.
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"I've made it clear why Nevada does not want to turn into the nation's nuclear waste dump," said U.S. Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev. "Despite Congress' refusal to fund the Yucca Mountain project, the administration is once again prioritizing it. "I'm going to continue to fight to make sure that this project doesn't see the light of day.
"Under my leadership Congress has not appropriated funding for licensing activities at Yucca Mountain as requested in the last budget. A state without a single nuclear power plant should not have to shoulder the entire nation's nuclear waste burden. Instead of pursing a failed project that has already cost taxpayers billions of dollars, the administration should refocus its efforts on the only sustainable path forward: a consent-based approach."
But in his statement, Tarkanian said "if done right Yucca Mountain would create thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars in revenue to Nevada, spurring a new age of technological innovation in the Silver State and creating a safer and cleaner America.
"DC Dean is showing his true colors again, playing politics when Nevada and our country needs true leadership. Dean Heller still refuses to support the Trump administration. With Yucca Mountain, Nevada has the opportunity to become a world leader in the reprocessing of nuclear fuel and eliminate 97 percent of our country's nuclear waste. In pushing to revive the project, the Trump administration recognizes how important Yucca Mountain is to Nevada and America. Dean Heller should be ashamed of himself for standing against President Trump, a safer America, and a more prosperous future for Nevada."
But the vast majority of elected officials in Nevada are against the Yucca Mountain project and Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who represents Southern Lyon County, also expressed his opposition.
"I am disappointed that President Trump's latest budget request dedicates $120 million to revive the long-dead nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, money that would be much better spent on research and development of the renewable energy technology that we need to power our clean-energy future," he said in a statement. "Rather than pursue a realistic attempt to develop a substantive nuclear waste management program, this is a colossal waste of funding."
"It goes directly against the will of Nevadans. I have been proud to help lead the fight against dumping nuclear waste in Nevadans' backyards, and I will continue working to ensure this project remains dead."
"It's a disgrace that President Trump and some members of Congress find it acceptable to continue throwing away tax payer money on a failed project," U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto also said her in statement. "Proponents of Yucca Mountain have already wasted more than $15 billion on a hole in the ground and have nothing to show for it. There is bipartisan agreement in Nevada's congressional delegation, and widespread opposition amongst Nevadans against Yucca Mountain. I will continue to fight this administration and call for consent-based citing for federal projects. Local voices must be heard and the people of Nevada have spoken: the health and safety of their communities and their families is not for sale to this administration. Rather than continue wasting billions of dollars, Secretary Perry should devote his time to coming up with a plan that secures America's clean energy future and respects the right of states' to decide if they want to be a nuclear dumping ground."