Lawmakers mount new bid to revive Yucca Mountain

WASHINGTON - House lawmakers supporting the Yucca Mountain repository plan to advance a bill this week that would set aside $35 million to revive the controversial nuclear waste site.

The Republican-led action renews the annual Capitol Hill tug of war over Yucca Mountain that in recent years has tilted in favor of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the project's leading opponent in Congress.

Since President Barack Obama terminated the program in 2009, frustrated Yucca Mountain supporters have inserted funding for it into the annual Department of Energy spending bill only to have the Senate refuse to go along.

In the latest round, the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday is expected to approve a draft bill for fiscal 2013 that contains $25 million to resume licensing the site once earmarked for an industrial waste-handling complex and an underground tunnel system to store more than 77,000 tons of highly radioactive material.

Another $10 million is made available for work at the Nye County site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Nye County would receive $5 million from the total for repository-related activities.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House energy and water subcommittee, said Yucca Mountain "is the law of the land" until Congress changes the 1982 law that led the Nevada site to be selected.

Reid said he will continue to resist efforts to revive the project, which is politically unpopular in the state's population centers.

"Proposals to resurrect it are akin to throwing billions in taxpayer money down a hole," Reid said in a statement.