Trump backs off support for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site

Trump backs off support for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site
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The White House said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE's budget request for 2021 will not include funding for a controversial nuclear waste repository in Nevada, marking a reversal of the administration's stance from the previous three years.

Trump had previously requested federal funds to build the Yucca Mountain project, over objections from Nevada leaders.

“Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain and my Administration will RESPECT you! Congress and previous Administrations have long failed to find lasting solutions – my Administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches – I’m confident we can get it done!” Trump tweeted.

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A senior administration official later confirmed to The Hill that the president would not seek funds for the Yucca Mountain project in his 2021 budget request, which is expected Monday.

The White House sought $120 million in Trump's first budget request to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain, which Congress designated in 1987 to be the nation’s sole repository for high-level nuclear waste.

Former President Obama halted the Yucca Mountain project in 2010 by cutting off the licensing process in 2010.

Trump’s tweet comes amid a growing push from some Republicans to increase reliance on nuclear energy. While the energy source is free from carbon pollution, it creates waste that must be stored for decades.

The move by Trump also comes in an election year, with the president seeking a second term. Trump lost Nevada by less than 2.5 percentage points in 2016.

Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoDSCC endorses McGrath in race against McConnell Democrats press Trump official for answers on ObamaCare replacement plan Senators urge Fed chief to tackle shortcomings of steady economy MORE (D-Nev.) cited Trump’s forthcoming budget when reacting to the news.

“I look forward to working with you on this critical issue for Nevada and ensuring your budget doesn’t include any funding to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project that a majority of Nevadans reject, regardless of party,” she tweeted.

Updated at 7:09 p.m.