On the eve of a U.S. Senate hearing on draft legislation to designate Yucca Mountain as the nation’s nuclear waste repository, Gov. Steve Sisolak is reiterating the state’s long standing opposition to burying spent fuel 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
“My position, and that of the State of Nevada, remains identical to the position of Nevada’s past five governors: The State of Nevada opposes the project based on scientific, technical, and legal merits,” Sisolak wrote to Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and to Ranking Member Thomas R. Carper (D-DE).
“My staff and I, as well as Nevada’s congressional delegation, would be happy to meet with committee members to explore constructive alternatives to Yucca Mountain for our nation’s broken nuclear waste storage system,” Sisolak said in the letter.
The hearing marks the second effort to resurrect the proposed nuclear waste repository since the departure of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid from Congress.
Without Reid at the helm and nuclear reactors in 30 states, Nevada’s congressional delegation faces tough odds.
“My draft legislation takes commonsense steps to advance the licensing of the Yucca Mountain facility,” Barrasso said in a press release last week. “After years of Washington looking the other way, it’s time to protect American ratepayers and taxpayers.”
Barrasso’s proposal would:
• Allow a licensing process to determine if the repository can be licensed and constructed;
• Protect ratepayers and assure DOE has adequate funding to construct and operate a multi-generational infrastructure project;
• Direct the Department of Energy (DOE) to move forward with a temporary storage program to consolidate spent nuclear fuel from sites with a decommissioned reactor while work on the Yucca Mountain repository progresses, including the authority to enter into a contract with a non-federal entity;
• Provide the state of Nevada and local stakeholders the opportunity to beneficially engage with the Federal government as the host State for the repository;
• Provide the most expeditious pathway to remove defense-waste from DOE sites; and
• Strengthen DOE program management and organization to more effectively implement its nuclear waste program
A similar effort in 2017 passed the House 340-72 but died in the Senate.
Sixty commercial plants currently operate 96 reactors, according to the U.S. government. Two more plants are under construction in Georgia.
Nevada’s congressional delegates are floating the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act, which would give governors veto power over nuclear waste repositories.