Nevada’s congressional Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday that would block a federal proposal to build a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain without consent from state, local and tribal governments.
“Yucca Mountain is unsafe, scientifically unsound, and a total waste of taxpayer dollars, to the tune of $19 billion so far,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in a release. “That’s why I’ve introduced this legislation, which will ensure the voices of Nevadans are finally heard and which requires the consent of local communities in any discussion on our country’s nuclear waste storage future.”
The measure, which the delegation first introduced in 2015 and has been periodically reintroduced, would require the consent of the governor, affected local governments and affected local tribes to move forward with the project. That consent would also be needed to spend money from the Nuclear Waste Fund for construction. The fund, financed by ratepayers, was established under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. First passed in 1982, the law initially directed Department of Energy (DOE) to site, construct and operate a geologic repository for high-level waste. The law was amended in 1987—known colloquially as the Screw Nevada Bill—and directed DOE to focus its work solely on Yucca Mountain.
“Today we are sending a clear message to President Trump and [Energy] Secretary Perry that the State of Nevada remains firmly opposed to nuclear waste storage within our borders,” said Rep. Dina Titus in a statement.
Trump has requested funding for Yucca in each of the budget blueprints he has submitted to Congress. However, the delegation has managed to fend off efforts in the past three fiscal years to provide federal dollars to the project in the budget for the Department of Energy.
“The Trump Administration’s attempt to treat our state as the dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste is based on dirty politics, not sound science,” Titus continued. “No state or community should have a nuclear waste dump forced upon them. I’m reintroducing this legislation as part of our strategy to put an end to the Yucca Mountain project once and for all.”
Last week, Titus, and fellow Nevada Democratic Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford wrote to Trump asking that he not include funding for Yucca in his fiscal 2020 budget.
Governor Steve Sisolak also welcomed the introduction of the measure.
“As governor, I will vigorously fight efforts to turn Nevada into America’s nuclear dumping ground,” Sisolak said in a release. “I want to thank our congressional delegation for introducing this legislation to ensure Nevadans have a seat at the table for any discussion of our country’s nuclear waste storage plans. Together with Nevada’s representatives in Congress, my administration will continue to stand up against unwanted attempts to store nuclear waste in our backyards.”