GOP senator slams Trump's Yucca Mountain proposal

GOP senator slams Trump's Yucca Mountain proposal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerAnother perfect storm: Why we must act before flood insurance runs dry Senators introduce bipartisan gun background check bill Dem PAC bullish on Senate chances MORE (R-Nev.) is slamming President Trump’s proposal to restart the planning process for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The comments from Heller, who is up for reelection next year in what is likely to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, reflect the long-held bipartisan view of state leaders in Nevada, who do not want the Yucca Mountain site built.

“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it,” Heller said in a Thursday statement following the release of Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2018.

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“Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” he said. “This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain.”

The budget proposes spending $120 million at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to restart the licensing process for Yucca.

Other federal lawmakers joined Heller in denouncing the Yucca plan.

Rep. Dana Titus (D) said the budget “would invest $120 million on the failed Yucca Mountain program while slashing programs that feed, clean, and clothe our homebound seniors and educate our children.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) called the proposal “unacceptable,” adding, “Time and again, Nevadans have made it clear that we will not accept any plan to revive Yucca Mountain.” 

Congress voted in 1987 to turn the federally owned site into a permanent repository for waste from nuclear plants and weapons programs. Nevada’s leaders, and most of its residents, have fought the proposal since then.

The licensing process stopped under former President Obama after the DOE committed to only building nuclear waste sites in areas that consented to it.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry did not say during his January confirmation whether he wants Yucca built or not, only telling Cortez Masto that he intended to “work very closely” with her on the matter.

Heller and Cortez Masto both voted to confirm Perry.