55°F
weather icon Clear

Congressman: Political considerations derailing Yucca Mountain

Updated September 12, 2018 - 8:12 pm

WASHINGTON — A House champion of using Yucca Mountain for permanent storage of nuclear waste charged Wednesday that national energy priorities have been dashed by political calculations to protect vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Heller, who is in a tight re-election bid, gladly took credit for having “stonewalled” House efforts to fund the revival of the proposed nuclear waste repository in the Silver State.

“I will not let Nevada be overrun by states that want to move the nuclear waste they created out of their backyards and into ours,” Heller said.

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., failed to fight for legislation and funding to license Yucca Mountain that was approved by the House but stripped from a final spending bill by Senate negotiators.

A spokeswoman for Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shimkus, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment, said in a statement that once again nuclear waste policy was dismissed over concerns by a Nevada senator.

Former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., successfully blocked development of Yucca Mountain for years.

Heller, the only Republican senator seeking re-election in November in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016, said, “Without my leadership in the U.S. Senate, Yucca Mountain will get the green light.”

Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who is challenging Heller, opposes Yucca Mountain development. So do Gov. Brian Sandoval and the rest of the Nevada congressional delegation. Nevada’s rural counties are seeking federal continuation of the project.

Shimkus, who wrote a bill authorizing funding to license and increase storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, was incensed after the money was slashed from the compromise legislation, essentially killing the project for fiscal 2019, which will begin Oct. 1.

“As we’ve allowed for a decade now, a single senator’s short-term political calculations again triumphed over long-term, bipartisan policy priorities,” Shimkus said in a statement.

President Donald Trump has sought funding to revive the licensing process on Yucca Mountain, and the House voted overwhelmingly to authorize spending $268 million in the next fiscal year.

Shimkus vowed to continue the fight in the next Congress with a new House speaker and House Appropriations Committee chairman.

“We will have another opportunity to do our job and put policy ahead of politics,” Shimkus said.

Sandoval said last month he anticipates another congressional push to open Yucca Mountain, and he has urged state officials to take the battle to Washington before next year.

Congress in 1987 designated Yucca Mountain as the site for a national repository for nuclear waste. Political opposition has prevented the site from opening.

Shimkus said the real losers in the battle “are taxpayers in all 50 states,” particularly those in 39 states with nuclear power plants where waste is being temporarily stored.

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
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
THE LATEST