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Sisolak reiterates Nevada opposition to Yucca nuclear storage

WASHINGTON — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak sent a letter Tuesday underscoring the state’s opposition to nuclear waste storage to the chairman and ranking member of a Senate panel in advance of a hearing on reviving the licensing process needed to open Yucca Mountain.

“My position, and that of the state of Nevada, remains identical to the position of Nevada’s past five governors,” Sisolak, a Democrat, wrote. “The state of Nevada opposes the project based on scientific, technical and legal merits.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, has introduced a bill that would revive licensing for the Yucca Mountain site, designated by Congress in 1987 as the location for permanent storage of nuclear waste produced by power plants.

The project, though, has been delayed by political opposition.

Barrasso said his bill would end the 30-year impasse and address the stockpiling of waste at more than 100 sites in 39 states nationwide.

“It’s time for Washington to fulfill its long-overdue promise to permanently and safely dispose of nuclear spent fuel,’’ Barrasso said.

Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, both Democrats, are scheduled to testify before the hearing. Both lawmakers are opposed to opening Yucca Mountain to permanent storage of nuclear waste.

Nevada’s opposition to Yucca Mountain is bipartisan and includes an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, business leaders, the gaming industry, tribal leaders and some labor unions.

Officials in Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is located, and other rural Nevada counties support the licensing process to determine if the facility would be safe. They point to an economic boon of jobs and tax revenues for schools with the construction and management of a Department of Energy facility.

Lawmakers in states with nuclear power plants also support the construction of Yucca Mountain to address the growing stockpile of waste and aging and decommissioned reactors around the country.

Barrasso’s bill, which mirrors one that passed overwhelmingly in the House in 2017, would also allow interim storage facilities to store waste until Yucca Mountain is completed.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are crafting legislation to allow contractors to take control of some nuclear waste and store the material while the repository debate continues.

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

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