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A view of the South Portal tunnel at Yucca Mountain on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Twelve members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee toured the proposed site for story nuclear waste. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Looking to get ahead of tomorrow's hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on a legislation to revive efforts to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Gov. Steve Sisolak reiterated his opposition to the project.

“I am totally opposed to any legislative effort to restart the Yucca Mountain project, Sisolak said in a letter dated April 26. “My position, and that of the State of Nevada, remains identical to the position of Nevada’s past five governors: The State of Nevada opposes the project based on scientific, technical, and legal merits.”

The Senate panel is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning to discuss draft legislation proposed by the chairman John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming. The bill is similar to legislation overwhelmingly passed by the House last year put forward by Rep. John Shimkus.

The House bill was never considered by the Senate, in part, because Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was seeking to protect former Sen. Dean Heller and his slim GOP Senate majority ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. With Heller gone, the legislation has now been picked up by Barrasso who has said that nuclear energy is a critical solution to reduce carbon emissions.

The letter is also addressed to the panel’s ranking Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware offering to meet. 

“My staff and I, as well as Nevada’s congressional delegation, would be happy to meet with committee members to explore constructive alternatives to Yucca Mountain for our nation’s broken nuclear waste storage system,” Sisolak wrote.

Sisolak also pointed to legislation backed by all of the state’s congressional Democrats that would require the U.S. Department of Energy to obtain written consent from the governor of Nevada and from affected county and tribal governments before constructing a repository at Yucca Mountain.

He said that Barrasso’s “draft legislation would seriously weaken Nevada's current due process rights to challenge documented safety concerns and adverse environmental impacts in the legally-mandated licensing proceeding.”

He concluded the letter with a pledge not to allow the project to move forward.

"I said in my State of the State address in January that not one ounce of nuclear waste will reach Yucca Mountain while I'm governor,” Sisolak said. “I fully intend to keep my promise to the people of Nevada and fight against any attempts to restart the failed Yucca Mountain program.”

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