87°F
weather icon Clear

Yucca Mountain revival efforts appear dead – for now

Updated July 23, 2018 - 5:09 pm

WASHINGTON — Efforts to restart licensing hearings and store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain appear dead for the next year after a congressional panel eliminated a funding request from the defense bill Monday.

Trump administration and congressional attempts to restart the licensing hearings and open the nuclear waste repository will likely resume in the next Congress, after midterm elections in November that could reshape the makeup of the House.

The House Armed Services Committee had authorized $30 million to store waste in Nevada in the defense bill, and the House had included $120 million in a separate spending bill to revive the licensing process of the Department of Energy’s application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Those items were both rejected by the Senate.

A House-Senate conference committee left the authorization language out of a compromise defense bill released Monday.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he asked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to keep the $30 million authorization out of the defense bill. McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Once again, I was able to work to kill efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to bring nuclear waste to Nevada,” Heller said in a prepared statement.

The House bill included the $30 million.

The House had voted 351-66 to approve the defense spending bill, which included a raise for military personnel, last month. The Senate passed its version of the $716 billion bill in June on a 85-10 vote.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate must now vote to approve the compromise bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending for fiscal year 2019, which begins Oct. 1.

Last month, Senate appropriators deleted a $120 million budget request by the Trump administration and approved by the House to restart licensing at Yucca Mountain. That funding was included in the spending bill for the DOE in fiscal year 2019.

Heller and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., urged Senate appropriators to delete the $120 million.

The lack of funding for Yucca Mountain leaves the project at an impasse for the year.

The House and Senate have historically been at loggerheads over the approach to nuclear waste storage.

Senators are seeking more emphasis on interim storage sites until permanent repositories are built. Yucca Mountain, though, remains integral to plans in both chambers.

Congress designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 as the nation’s permanent repository for nuclear waste from power plants and some military generated waste.

But despite $15 billion spent to study the location, a facility has yet to be built on the Nye County site, mostly due to political opposition in Nevada.

Meanwhile, the waste from nuclear power plants, and the Navy, is being stockpiled around the country.

An annual DOE financial report out last month said taxpayer liability for litigation over the federal government’s failure to permanently store nuclear waste has grown to $34.1 billion, a $3.3 billion increase over last year.

“Taxpayers in all 50 states are now liable for $34.1 billion because the federal government has not even begun to consolidate the spent nuclear fuel stranded around our nation,” Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and the economy, said when the report was published.

The House passed legislation this year to streamline the application licensing process and increase the capacity of Yucca Mountain storage of nuclear waste from 70,000 to 110,000 metric tons.

Shimkus had urged the Senate to “quickly take up and pass that bipartisan bill to address this national priority.” However, the Senate has not taken up the Shimkus legislation, or introduced its own version of a bill on long-term storage of nuclear materials.

The effort to revive the licensing hearings will now be put off until 2019 and the next Congress.

Nine rural Nevada counties, including Nye, support a licensing review by the NRC to determine if the geologic repository is safe for permanent storage of waste. Nye County sees a permanent repository as a potential economic boon with high-paying federal jobs and business opportunities.

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 LATEST
Arab lawmakers in Israel endorse Gantz for prime minister

It will be up to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to decide which candidate should be given the chance to form a coalition government and serve as prime minister.

Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightened

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s president called Sunday on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region’s waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic’s military arsenal.

Trump says China trade deal unnecessary before election

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating penalties on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.

UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states

Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan.

Commissioners want Clark County to fight climate change

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones outlined steps this week he’d like to take to fight climate change, including hiring a sustainability director and adopting an action plan similar to the city of Reno.