weather icon Clear

Chairman promises House vote on Yucca Mountain funding

WASHINGTON — A House committee chairman on Thursday vowed to take a bill to fund licensing proceedings for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository to the floor of the House for a vote.

“We will get Yucca legislation to the floor,” predicted Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We want to get it to the president’s desk.”

He did not provide a timetable.

Walden’s comments came during a hearing at which Energy Secretary Rick Perry defended his $30 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2019, which includes $110 million for restarting the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain project, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and $10 million to study interim storage sites until the Nevada repository is completed.

The House panel’s enthusiasm for building the Yucca Mountain repository contrasted with the reception Perry received Wednesday from a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, which urged him to immediately step up the search for interim storage sites and work to identify another permanent site for nuclear waste in addition to Yucca Mountain.

A private contractor is seeking a license to temporarily store waste at sites in New Mexico and Texas.

Meanwhile, during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., that he is open to interim storage.

“I’m not trying to beat up on Nevada,” Mulvaney said. “I’m trying to figure out a way to put this stuff someplace safe.”

Yucca Mountain was designated by Congress in 1987 as the permanent repository for nuclear waste generated by power plants.

A DOE application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to construct and run the facility was withdrawn in 2011 by the Obama administration.

President Donald Trump placed Yucca Mountain licensing back into the DOE budget last year, and the House upped the amount of spending by $30 million, to $150 million. But authorization and spending were not included in a final spending bill for fiscal year 2018.

The Yucca Mountain project is a lightning rod in Nevada.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and most of the state’s congressional delegation have vowed to fight locating a national nuclear repository in a state that does not have a nuclear plant or use energy produced by nuclear plants.

But some rural counties in Nevada, including Nye County where Yucca Mountain is located, want to see the licensing process continued to determine whether the geological repository would be safe for nuclear waste storage.

A DOE repository in rural Nevada would be a boon in federal spending and high-paying federal jobs for the region, Nye County officials contend.

Perry, in a previous hearing, acknowledged the stalemate between the House and Senate that has kept the Yucca Mountain project from moving forward and complying with existing law requiring the federal government to establish a nuclear waste repository.

The secretary told the House panel Thursday that taxpayers are spending roughly $9 million a day because the government is out of compliance with the law.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Trump aides heading to Nevada Basque Fry

Several current and former aides to President Donald Trump are headed to the annual Basque Fry, an event sponsored by former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt.