Analysis: Trump pushing to restart Yucca Mountain but hasn’t said why

WASHINGTON — In October 2016, candidate Donald Trump came to Las Vegas to face the question all presidential hopefuls who think they can win Nevada must face: Did he support building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain?

“I’m very friendly with this area,” Trump responded. “I have a hotel here. I will tell you I’m going to take a look at it because so many people here are talking about it. I’ll take a look at it, and the next time you interview me, I’ll have an answer.”

Contrary to his campaign rhetoric, Trump did not issue an opinion on Yucca Mountain before Nevadans went to the polls. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who said she opposed the Yucca Mountain repository, carried the state.

Since Trump won the Electoral College, however, he has begun to focus on Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste site. In March, his administration released a spending plan that reserved $120 million to jump-start the Yucca Mountain facility and initiate interim nuclear waste storage.

The Review-Journal has asked the White House press office repeatedly which factors prompted the president to go forward with Yucca Mountain. What research did he consult? Whose opinion did he seek before supporting the project? When did he decide he supported the repository? The administration’s answers provide more confusion than insight.

Asked about the president’s thinking on Yucca Mountain at a June 19 briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer responded, “That’s a great question. I probably need to do some following up on that.” He said he would consult the policy side for an answer.

The administration then forwarded two different quotes given on background that were supposed to answer the question. One quote does not mention Yucca Mountain, the other suggests that the Trump administration has not decided on a project for which it has budgeted $120 million.

— “The president believes the country should be energy independent and that includes support for nuclear energy which, in addition to other energy programs, is critical to enhancing the economic and national security goals of our country.”

— “We’ve been reviewing Yucca Mountain very closely and before any final licensing decision is made, we’ll be consulting with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety of the American people. Ultimately, it will be a recommendation from the Department of Energy.”

Perry’s position

Asked about Yucca Mountain at a briefing last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, “Well, you know, we’ve made no decisions at DOE, nor has this administration, from the standpoint of where we’re going to look. Obviously, those are all options but there’s been no decision made about where it will be going.”

It was an odd response given that the Department of Energy’s 2018 budget is slated for a 5.6 percent cut, and still the president’s budget provided “$120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and to initiate a robust interim storage program.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the White House sent another background-only statement on Yucca Mountain. “The President’s budget recognizes the need to develop every kind of American energy. Funding for interim storage was requested to find a near term solution to continue domestic nuclear energy production and responsibly deal with nuclear waste storage while licensing and construction of Yucca is pending.”

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office said Trump never reached out to the Republican governor about Yucca Mountain, though Sandoval “has talked with Secretary Perry about Yucca Mountain on at least two different occasions and reiterated his staunch and unwavering opposition to the ill-conceived, dangerous project.”

Nevada’s U.S. senators, Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, also said the Trump team did not consult them before budgeting for the Yucca project.

“No one in the administration or transition team reached out to our office to inform us about plans to go forward with Yucca Mountain,” Cortez Masto’s office said. “Secretary Perry told us about his plans to visit Yucca Mountain, but we were not given any other information.”

Reasons aplenty

There are respectable reasons to support or oppose the Yucca Mountain repository.

On the plus side, it’s the law as directed when President Ronald Reagan signed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1987. Nuclear power ratepayers spent billions laying the groundwork for the project through scientific studies and by boring a 5-mile exploratory tunnel more than a decade before President Barack Obama scuttled the project in what was seen as a favor to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

It’s been touted by scientists as the most-studied geological site ever, which is why many Nye County officials support it.

Opponents see the decision to dump nuclear waste in one low-population state as a political decision designed not for maximum public safety, but as a way to spare politicians in the other 49 states. They say the site is flawed because of hazards posed by earthquake faults and volcanoes in the region. They also cite risks with transporting highly radioactive waste across the nation’s highways and rail lines and argue that Nevadans shouldn’t have to house nuclear waste when there isn’t a single nuclear power plant in the state.

The administration’s failure to answer questions suggests there’s a possibility the White House is having second thoughts. Or maybe the administration wants to move this forward without the inconvenience of having to explain itself to the public. For all his talk about states’ rights, Trump has yet to give Nevadans what he promised as a candidate — a clear position and an explanation.

“Moving forward with the plan will not help Trump win Nevada,” noted UNLV political science chairman John Tuman, “but as we have seen, the president has a path to re-election that does not include Nevada.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or at 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Protesters Line Streets for President Trump's Arrival in Las Vegas
Hundreds lined the streets in front of Suncoast to protest President Donald Trump's arrival in Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Thunder Mountain monument stands as a tribute to Native American culture
Caretaker Fred Lewis talks about Thunder Mountain monument in central Nevada, made from concrete and found items. The five-acre site is a tribute to Native Peoples of the West. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New CCSD superintendent Jesus F. Jara aims for 1st in the nation
On his third day as Clark County School District superintendent, Jesus F. Jara talks about his vision for the future during a visit to Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Ceremony Recognizes Refugee Students, Graduates
Rosy Mibulano, a graduate of Las Vegas High School who came to America from the Congo in 2015, was recognized in a ceremony for refugee students in Clark County. Like many other students relocated to Las Vegas from countries around the world, Rosy had a challenging high school experience, from learning English to adjusting to American customs and taking care of her family. On top of that, she wants to go to school to become a nurse so she can take care of her mother, who suffers from diabetes. The annual Refugee Recognition Ceremony celebrates the enormous lengths these young adults go through to create a new life for themselves. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Politics
Donald Trump Speaks At The Nevada Republican Party State Convention
President Donald Trump speaks at the Nevada Republican Party State Convention at the Suncoast Station.
The Right Take: Democrats Care More About Politics Than Immigrant Families
Democrats are already positioning themselves to vote down a law that would stop the separation of illegal immigrant parents and children. Remember this the next time you see liberals compare President Donald Trump and his administration to Nazis on this issue.
Nevada Politics Today: Dan Hart
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with political consultant, Dan Hart.
Nevada Primaries: Congressional Races
Review-Journal Political reporter Ramona Giwargis goes over the election night primary results for the congressional races.
The Right Take: Rosen lied about getting a degree in computers
Two weeks ago Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign released video evidence that Rep. Jacky Rosen lied about her resume. The media couldn’t care less.
Nevada Politics Today: Zac Moyle
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with political consultant, Zac Moyle to discuss the 2018 primary election results.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
Nevada Primaries: Governor Races
Review-Journal Political reporter Colton Lochhead goes over the election night primary results for the Governor races.
Election Night: Polls Close At 7 p.m.
Review-Journal political reporter Ramona Giwargis goes over what to expect from the Nevada primaries.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
The Right Take: Transgender regulations are radical and one-sided
Despite months of parental and student opposition, the regulations are radical and one-sided. Under the proposal, which Trustees will vote on Thursday, students get to pick their own gender identity and which locker rooms to change in.
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The Right Take: Tax Cuts Boosted Rosen's Staffs Pay
In February, the campaign team of Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Jacky Rosen saw a pay bump thanks to the Republican tax plan.
Nevada Politics Today: Dan Rodimer
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Senate District 8, Dan Rodimer.
Nevada Politics Today: Dan Rodimer
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Senate District 8, Dan Rodimer.
The Right Take: To fix CCSD start in Carson City
State government has created the collective bargaining laws that have put the district on the brink of financial insolvency. Here are three ways to fix that.
The Right Take: Kids claim to be concerned about budget cuts
Ryan was one of six students Wednesday supposedly upset about budget cuts. Be real. Adults — be they parents, teachers or union officials — turned these kids into human shields and media props.
Nevada Politics Today: Bryce Henderson
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with Democrat candidate for Senate District 10, Bryce Henderson.
The Right Take: Trump calls MS-13 members 'animals'
Last week, President Donald Trump hosted a summit with California law enforcement officers to discuss the dangers the state’s “sanctuary” policies. During Q&A, Fresno County sheriff Margaret Mims worried about the sanctuary law preventing her from telling federal officials that she had a MS-13 gang member in custody.
The Right Take: 3 questions Sisolak, Chris G. won't answer
Consider Democrat gubernatorial frontrunners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani. Guns and education have been major campaign themes. Yet neither candidates will provide basic information about their policies, despite my requests.
Nevada Politics Today: CD3 GOP Candidates Debate
Victor Joecks moderates a debate with the three Republican candidates for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District 3. Candidates are Danny Tarkanian, Sen. Scott Hammond and Michelle Mortensen.
Nevada Politics Today: Allison Stephens
Victor Joecks sits down with candidate for CD4, Allison Stephens.
The Right Take: Hogg is wrong about Question 1
Victor Joecks talks about the errors David Hogg made in a recent tweet.
The Right Take: Student accused teacher of kicking, yanking him
Jayden Zelaya-Ramos is a fifth-grade student at George E. Harris Elementary School. That’s where he says Jason Wright, husband of school board president Deanna Wright, kicked and yanked him in early March.
The Right Take: Trustees call for a special session
Victor Joecks talks about a special session about teacher pay raises.
The Right Take: Three things to know about CCSD's next superintendent
Victor Joecks talks about things to know about CCSD's next superintendent.
Nevada Politics Today: Craig Mueller
Las Vegas Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Attorney General, Craig Mueller and discusses his position on crime in Nevada.
The Right Take: Rosen attended fundraiser hosted by Jane Fonda
Last Friday, Rosen attended a fundraiser hosted by Jane Fonda and other Hollywood elites. Yes, that’s the same Jane Fonda that Vietnam War veterans call “Hanoi Jane” for smiling while sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
The Right Take: Registrar has admitted to 175 mistakes
Victor Joecks talks about the Clark County Registrar’s office struggling to keep its numbers straight.
Nevada Politics Today: Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity
Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity.
The Right Take: Equal Pay Day sends a false message to women
Equal Pay Day was last week. Democrats spent the day spreading the falsehood that women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. That’s a false and destructive message to send to women.
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Las Vegas man stands with president at White House
President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden Thursday about how the GOP tax cut plan helped working families across the country. To his left stood Richard Kerzetski, president of Universal Plumbing & Heating Co. in Las Vegas. Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Right Take: Superintendent has limited authority
It’s starts with money. CCSD has a lot. It has a $2.4 billion general fund. The superintendent controls almost none of it. Personnel expenses make up 87 percent of that. The rest goes to things like utilities, gas for school buses and textbooks.
Nevada Politics Today: Michelle Mortensen
Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for CD3, Michelle Mortensen to discuss the Nevada congressional race and DACA.
The Right Take: Liberals claim there's a 20% gender pay gap
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, a chance for liberals to claim that women in America make only 80 cents for every dollar a male makes. They calculate this by comparing the median annual earnings of men and women working full-time in 2016.
State lawmaker shares his views on new prison education program
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford shared his views Friday about a prison education bill he spearheaded in the 2017 legislative session. Ford, community members and higher education officials toured the High Desert State Prison on Indian Springs on Friday where he program is being implemented. (Natalie Bruzda/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like