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A stipulation in the draft “skinny budget” released by the Trump administration has put the government at odds with the state of Nevada as it envisages a $120-million allocation to be spent on restarting ”licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate a robust interim storage program.”
The summary of the draft goes on to add that this investment “would accelerate progress on fulfilling the Federal Government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden,” making it sound like a done deal.
Opposition to the Yucca Mountain project has been rife in Nevada and in Congress, led by Democratic Senator and Senate vet Harry Reid, who managed to put the brakes on the proposal. Now, however, as the Nevada Independent reports, with Reid retired, it is doubtful if the Nevada Senate delegation has what it takes to once again stop the project.
Both Nevada Senators, Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, were quick to express their “vehement opposition” to the proposal in a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and to the director of the office of management and Budget, which released the draft.
In the letter, they reminded the recipients that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval had already warned that the state will contest any license application, which will cost the federal government more than a billion dollars and will drag for years. Heller and Cortez Masto added that the federal government would do the smart thing if it selects another location for nuclear waste storage, “in areas that are willing to store it,” rather than trying to force it on Nevadans.
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The Yucca Mountain site was proposed as nuclear waste storage back in 2008. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved it six years later. When Harry Reid effectively killed it, the case resulted in potential legal liabilities for the federal government north of $50 billion. Meanwhile, America’s 99 reactors create waste that has no permanent long-term storage site.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.