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Nevada Legislature formalizes opposition to revive Yucca Mountain

CARSON CITY — A resolution restating the Legislature’s opposition to any effort to license Yucca Mountain as a high-level nuclear waste dump was endorsed Monday by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

Assembly Joint Resolution 10 was introduced last week just as the Trump administration announced a budget request of $120 million to restart licensing proceedings with the goal of making it the burial site for 77,000 metric tons of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel.

While there is strong opposition to Yucca Mountain among a vast majority of Nevada policy makers, an alternate position was taken by Nye County Commission Chairman Dan Schinhofen, who said a proceeding in front of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would answer scientific questions about the suitability of the site to store the waste.

The nation deserves to hear the science and have a decision made by an independent body, he said.

“Political science should not overshadow nuclear science,” Schinhofen said.

But Wes Duncan, representing Laxalt, said Yucca Mountain is an unstable site with a host of insurmountable problems that make it unsuitable as a waste repository. The attorney general’s office will do all it can within the law to fight the proposal, Duncan said.

The resolution was heard Monday by the Assembly Commerce Committee subcommittee on energy. No immediate action was taken on it.

In addition to concerns about the suitability of the site, Southern Nevada officials are concerned about the shipment of the spent nuclear fuel through Las Vegas to the site.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce spoke in opposition, and many officials are concerned about the potential impacts on the region’s tourism economy.

Last week the state Agency for Nuclear Projects presented its budget to a panel of lawmakers for the coming two years to continue the fight against the project.

The agency’s budget for the coming two years totals $1.9 million in the first year and $1.85 million in the second year. Nevada is objecting to the project on multiple grounds, including site suitability, the disposal concept, groundwater impacts and transportation issues.

State officials estimate that the licensing process for Yucca Mountain would take four to five years at a cost of $1.66 billion.

Laxalt said last week he has requested $7.2 million over the next two years to represent the state’s interest in the licensing process over Yucca Mountain, which he called a poster child of “federal overreach.”

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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