Nevada governor to boycott Trump meeting

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) will not attend meetings at the White House this week in protest of the Trump administration's decision to secretly ship 1,000 pounds of plutonium to a nuclear waste facility outside of Las Vegas.

Sisolak, who won office in November, said his administration has asked the Trump administration and the Department of Energy repeatedly for clarification about the shipment, but so far they have received no response.

"The president, without our knowledge, decided to have half a ton of plutonium shipped to the state of Nevada. We don't know when it was shipped, how it was shipped, when it got there," Sisolak told The Hill in a brief interview Saturday morning.


"My main focus is to protect the citizens of my state, and I feel it would be disingenuous to go and have a sit-down dinner with the president and the administration when we've written letters, tried to get responses to why this was done, and thus far heard crickets," he said.

The nation's governors are holding their annual meeting this weekend at a downtown Washington hotel. Traditionally, the White House invites governors to a dinner on Sunday night, followed by a series of working meetings on Monday with the president and administration officials.

Sisolak said he will not be part of those meetings. His office sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Ernest Moniz Trump issues executive order to protect power grid from attack Why we need to transition, quickly, from fossil fuels to clean energy MORE earlier this month requesting information about the plutonium shipment, which took place before November's election. They did not hear back.

"I'm very disappointed. We'd love to meet with [Perry]. We've reached out to try to meet with the administration and the secretary and thus far have not been successful," Sisolak said.

A White House spokesman later pushed back on Sisolak's comments, claiming that the governor had been offered opportunities to speak with "senior administration officials" at the White House twice in the past two months.

“It’s disappointing that Nevada’s new governor would choose not to take up his concerns with senior administration officials despite being given that opportunity," said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

"The Trump administration is open to discussions with the governor on this topic as well as others. Gov. Sisolak has been invited to the White House twice in the last two months and turned down the invitation both times — that partisan approach is disappointing,” he added.

The Energy Department disclosed last month that it had shipped about half a metric ton of plutonium from a nuclear facility in South Carolina to Nevada last year. The plutonium ended up at the Nevada National Security Site, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Nevada politicians have long sought to block the transfer of nuclear waste from across the country to the national security site, near Yucca Mountain.

Nevada sued the Department of Energy in November to halt the planned transfer from South Carolina, but the Energy Department said the material had already been shipped, without informing local officials.

The shipment took place before Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) left office. Sandoval, like Sisolak, opposed moving nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.

— Updated 1:20 p.m.