Nevada Democrats want say on Yucca Mountain
LAS VEGAS — With Congress talking about reviving a mothballed plan to entomb the nation’s most radioactive waste in the Nevada desert, top state officials and most of its federal representatives are resuming a 35-year fight to block it.
Democratic representatives Dina Titus, Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen issued statements this week denouncing efforts to restart the Yucca Mountain project, and aides said Friday that each wants to testify at a hearing about the program scheduled Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Dan Schneider, a spokesman for the House subcommittee hosting the hearing, said Kihuen is being invited, and Titus provided testimony during a hearing held last year. He said the committee hadn’t heard from Rosen.
“We will consider input from all stakeholders,” Schneider said.
U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, oppose the project.
Not everyone in Nevada is united against having the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission complete hearings on the proposal to collect 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel from more than 100 sites around the country and bury it beneath an ancient volcanic ridge about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican, has said the facility would create jobs, and the state should negotiate for federal benefits in return for hosting it.
Nine counties, including Nye County where Yucca Mountain is located, want the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to finally decide if the repository should get a license to open.
The hearing will be chaired by Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, who has toured the Yucca Mountain site.
President Donald Trump new energy secretary, Rick Perry, also toured the site in March, shortly after Trump proposed $120 million to restart the licensing process for the site.
Perry also met with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a fellow Republican, who said he won’t allow storage of high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Richard Bryan, a former U.S. senator who began fighting the repository idea when he was governor in 1982, credited former U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama with stopping the repository plan.
Bryan chairs the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects, a state agency that continued to oversee state programs monitoring developments and preparing for licensing hearings on the plan.
“We’re mobilized on the legal front, with the governor and the attorney general strongly opposed,” Bryan said.