Lahontan Valley News letters to the editor for Friday, May 25, 2018
May 24, 2018
Congressman responds to letter about Yucca Mountain
In response to Jim Falk's letter, I wanted to provide the remaining facts behind my recent vote against H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, a bill to accelerate the licensing application at Yucca Mountain as the nation's permanent repository for nuclear waste.
Prior to voting on this legislation, my staff and I worked to craft an amendment to H.R. 3053 which would have: prioritized institutions in Nevada's System of Higher Education for nuclear research and environmental monitoring, cleaned up facilities in Nevada that remain contaminated by the federal government, required the Department of Energy (DOE) to study reprocessing facilities on-site, and provided responsible solutions for Nevada through the designation of surface transportation corridors.
After three years of work on this measure, at the last minute, the House Rules Committee concluded my amendment was not germane to the underlying bill because we were trying to ensure the route for the I-11 Corridor runs through Fallon. The reason being, if we're going to potentially transport nuclear waste across state lines by way of rail or surface transportation, then it's probably responsible to consider where highways are going to be in proximity to the proposed facility.
Jim, it might interest you to know that the entire goal of the amendment was to prevent Yucca from becoming a 'dump site', as you make reference to in your letter, and to ensure the university system in Nevada would benefit greatly with oversight and reprocessing site studies.
Contrary to your claim that I 'went along to get a long,' what I actually said was: 'If I am only given a piece of legislation which designates Nevada as the nation's nuclear land fill — I'm a no.' Accordingly, the Rules Committee failed to include my amendment in the bill, and I voted no.
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It might also interest you to know my staff and I were successful in including the above provisions — regarding reprocessing, oversight, and legal authority review for cleaning up the radium contamination at a building on the University of Nevada, Reno's campus – in the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, and are currently working to include the I-11 portion in other pieces of legislation.
Finally, in regard to your accusation that my vote put myself "and the rest of Nevada" out of a seat at the table, I've got some bad news, Jim: it's not over until it's over. While I would have preferred these measures to be included in H.R. 3053, I'm pleased that we're now in the process of getting all of these priorities replaced in other bills that are headed to the House Floor, so the end result is a very good seat at the table and a win for all Nevadans.
Rep. Mark Amodei
Nevada's Second Congressional District