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Senate candidate Sam Brown reverses position on Yucca Mountain

Updated May 28, 2024 - 4:48 pm

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sam Brown has backtracked on his position regarding the controversial plan to turn Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste repository.

Brown, the presumed frontrunner in the Republican primary, said on X that he has spoken with engineers and experts on Yucca Mountain over the past month, and it “is abundantly clear that the project is dead.”

“As I’ve said before, it should not, and will not, be revived as a nuclear waste repository. As Nevada’s next US Senator, I’ll stand with President Trump to oppose it,” he posted on X over the weekend.

The latest comment from Brown diverges from what he previously said in 2022 at a Southern Hills Republican Women’s luncheon, where he spoke in support of the project and said it would be a shame if it went to a different state.

He called the failure to open Yucca Mountain an “incredible loss of revenue for our state,” according to audio obtained by the Los Angeles Times, which published a story last month.

Following the release of that audio, Brown faced a swath of criticism from Nevada politicians on both sides of the aisle. He later said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had not committed to supporting the opening of Yucca Mountain and stressed that he would consider all thoroughly vetted proposals.

“Leadership means considering all economic opportunities that could better support the lives of Nevadans,” he had said in the statement.

Some of Brown’s Republican opponents who will face him in the June 11 primary election took swings at the national-backed candidate, accusing him of flip-flopping on his position.

“Voters in Nevada have been crystal clear that they don’t support becoming our country’s nuclear wasteland but Sam Brown ignored their concerns for the last two years,” candidate Tony Grady said in a Tuesday statement.

Jeff Gunter, who has launched a series of attack ads against Brown, including one on Yucca Mountain, called Brown “Captain Flip Flop” in a statement. He accused him of changing his stance after seeing low poll numbers.

“Nevada deserves honesty and clarity, not deception and flip-flopping. I have always stood firmly against Yucca Mountain alongside President Trump and will always put Nevada and Americans first,” Gunter said in the statement.

Brown’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

For years, the controversial proposal to turn Yucca Mountain, located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, into a federal nuclear waste repository was met with strong opposition from Nevada politicians on both sides of the aisle, from former Republican Sen. Dean Heller to Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, who is up for re-election in November.

The Yucca Mountain project was brought up during a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee meeting in April, with members speaking in favor of it, saying Nevadans’ opposition to the project is based solely on political reasons, and not scientific or economic reasons.

Recent polls have shown Rosen maintaining a wide lead in a potential matchup with Brown, who previously ran for Senate in 2022.

Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Katharine Kurz also criticized Brown on Tuesday.

“Nevadans have made it clear they do not want our state turned into a dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste, and they’re not falling for Brown’s election year lies,” Kurz said in a statement.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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