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House panel OKs spending bill without funds for Yucca Mountain

Updated July 13, 2020 - 4:10 pm

WASHINGTON — A House panel approved a spending bill Monday that includes $27 million for interim storage of nuclear waste and no funds for a Yucca Mountain repository.

The bill was considered a victory for Nevada because it also included language to prevent the Trump administration from conducting a nuclear weapons test and also prohibited future shipments of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to the Nevada National Security Site.

“We have once again defeated the dangerous attempts to make our state the dumping ground for the nation’s waste,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

“President Trump tried for three years to shove nuclear waste down our throats and this year his allies didn’t put up much of a fight,” she added.

The spending bill for energy and water in fiscal year 2021 is the first in recent years not to include funding for Yucca Mountain, designated by Congress in 1987 as the sole site for permanent storage of nuclear waste from power plants and Navy ships.

The Trump administration had sought funding in its past three budget proposals but backed off seeking Yucca Mountain licensing money in the upcoming year, which begins before the presidential election.

Nevada is considered a competitive state needed for Trump’s re-election efforts.

The administration instead proposed $27 million to explore interim storage of nuclear waste at other sites, a proposal accepted by the House Appropriations Committee.

The committee passed the legislation, 30-21. The bill now goes to the full floor of the House, where an amendment to add Yucca Mountain funding could be offered.

The Senate also is drafting its version of the spending bill. Any differences would be ironed out by a House-Senate conference committee to create a final bill.

In addition to language written by Titus to prevent the Trump administration from conducting a nuclear test, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., wrote companion legislation to be considered by the Senate.

Titus and Markey wrote the bills after news reports that the Trump administration was considering conducting a test after nearly three decades. The nuclear stockpile has been certified functional by the Defense and state officials.

Future testing would likely occur at the NNSS north of Las Vegas. The last underground explosive test there occurred in 1992.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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