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Nevada Senate vote sends Yucca Mountain resolution to Congress

Updated May 17, 2017 - 4:35 pm

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Senate gave final legislative approval Wednesday to a resolution strongly opposing any attempts by Congress to make Yucca Mountain the nation’s high-level nuclear waste dump.

Assembly Joint Resolution 10 was approved on a vote of 19-2, with Republicans Pete Goicoechea of Eureka and Don Gustavson of Sparks voting against it. Both lawmakers represent parts of rural Nye County where Yucca Mountain is located. Nye County officials support the nuclear waste project because of job creation potential.

The resolution previously passed the Assembly 32-6 and will now go to Congress.

“Real people have reasonable, real concerns about the transportation and storage of nuclear waste in Nevada,” Sen. Joe Hardy, a soft-spoken Boulder City Republican known for brevity said in an unusually lengthy floor speech.

“In so many ways the Yucca Mountain project illustrates that perception is reality, thus it behooves us to be sure that the science of nuclear storage … is irrefutable,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, was more succinct.

“In 1987 Washington’s decision to select Yucca Mountain for a repository was an attempt to screw Nevada,” Roberson said, referencing a bill passed by Congress that year designating Yucca Mountain as the only site to be considered for the repository. The bill became known as the “Screw Nevada bill.”

“Washington’s been trying to screw Nevada for the last 30 years,” Roberson said. “It’s time for all of us today to tell Washington to stop trying to screw Nevada.”

Most Nevadans have long opposed Congress targeting the state for a waste dump. Yucca Mountain was mothballed under the Obama administration. But concerns about its resurrection come amid a push by President Donald Trump and members of Congress to address the need to permanently store the 77,000 metric tons of waste.

Trump called for $120 million in his budget to revive construction of the Yucca Mountain site, as well as development of an interim nuclear waste storage program. Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured the site in March.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval met with Perry recently in Washington and reiterated his resolve to fight Yucca Mountain.

“I’ve always made it extremely clear to him that, when it comes to Yucca Mountain, I am absolute in my opposition to that project; that whether we’re friends of not, we’re not friends on this,” Sandoval told reporters after the meeting.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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