Home>Articles>Nevada Senators Propose Bill to Repurpose Yucca Mountain, Ban Nuclear Waste Storage

Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen (Photo: @cortezmasto)

Nevada Senators Propose Bill to Repurpose Yucca Mountain, Ban Nuclear Waste Storage

Democratic Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto introduce ‘Jobs, Not Waste Act’ to repeal the law that led to the designation of Yucca Mountain as a repository for the nation’s nuclear waste

By Megan Barth, May 14, 2024 4:28 pm

This afternoon, Democratic Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto introduced legislation to repeal the law that led to the designation of Yucca Mountain as a repository for the nation’s nuclear waste, and examine job-creating benefits of other uses for Yucca Mountain, such as a data center, a command facility for defense activities, a scientific research center, or other alternative uses. The Jobs, Not Waste Act also would withdraw and terminate the licensing proceeding for Yucca Mountain from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review process, and require the Department of Energy to reclaim and mitigate any adverse environmental impacts to the site as result of the application review.

“Nevada has made it abundantly clear that we will not be the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste,” Senator Rosen said in a statement. “I’ve been fighting alongside colleagues on both sides of the aisle for years to prevent Yucca Mountain from moving forward. As House Republicans attempt to revive this project, I’m introducing legislation to ban Yucca Mountain from being a nuclear waste repository and instead examine other uses for it to create good-paying jobs.”

“Nevadans do not want nuclear waste in our backyards, and any attempt to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project is unacceptable,” Senator Cortez Masto said in a statement. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Rosen to ensure no nuclear waste comes to Yucca Mountain and to explore alternative uses that support working families and prioritize the safety of all Nevadans.”

The controversial project, located approximately 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in Nye County, was first proposed in the 1980’s and approved in 2002, but federal funding ceased in 2011. Since its inception, the project has been met with legal challenges, environmental concerns, and bipartisan, political pushback.

Proposed design for nuclear waste repository (Photo: Wikipedia)

In 2020, President Trump reversed his support of the project after the United States had spent billions of dollars over decades to open the repository. At the time, Trump voiced his opposition on X (formerly Twitter) stating, “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain and my Administration will RESPECT you!” The administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches, he wrote, adding “I’m confident we can get it done.”

As early voting in the GOP Primary for U.S. Senate begins on May 25, Yucca Mountain is once again in the headlines as Senator Rosen and Nevada Democrats are taking aim at her potential GOP challenger Captain Sam Brown.

According to The Hill:

Brown, the GOP front-runner to challenge Rosen, said in recently unearthed comments from his 2022 Senate race that the state risked losing out on an opportunity if it blocked the plans.

“If we don’t act soon, other states … are assessing whether or not they can essentially steal that opportunity from us,” he said in a recording, first obtained by The Los Angeles Times.

Brown said in a statement to The Hill earlier this month that he was not actively calling for the reopening of Yucca Mountain, but that future proposals should be considered.

Last week, Nevada Democrats held a press conference in Las Vegas blasting Brown’s 2022 comments. “This issue isn’t Republicans versus Democrats, it’s Sam Brown versus Nevada,” said Rory Reid, former chair of the Clark County Commission and the son of the late Sen. Harry Reid. “Mr. Brown’s position ignores the collective wisdom of almost every other Nevadan that has ever been elected to serve this state in any capacity,” Reid told The Las Vegas Sun.

Democratic Assemblyman Howard Watts speaks Thursday, May 2, 2024, during a news conference outside Sol-Up Solar in Las Vegas.  (Photo: Ayden Runnels)

Brown is also taking heat from GOP primary challenger Dr. Jeff Gunter who released a statewide ad today underscoring his opposition to the proposed nuclear waste site and targeting Brown as a “Scam” and an establishment candidate who has “sold out to Mitch McConnell.”

“I am resolutely opposed to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project. It’s an absolute overreach by the federal government to impose such a hazardous burden on the great state of Nevada without the consent of its people…We need a Senator who protects families, not politicians,” Gunter warns in the thirty second ad. Gunter then took to X and charged that Brown is running a “toxic” campaign.

“Contrary to the political lies being spread by democrats like Jacky Rosen and Jeff Gunter, I have not committed to supporting the opening of Yucca Mountain. However, I will consider all thoroughly vetted future proposals, with the safety of Nevadans being my top priority, while ensuring the proposals are substantially economically beneficial. Leadership means considering all economic opportunities that could better support the lives of Nevadans,” Brown said in a statement to The Globe.

“Sam’s first priority will always be the safety and security of Nevadans, our water, and our environment. If a proposal isn’t explicitly proven to be demonstrably safe, he will not support it. Senator Rosen is continuing the Harry Reid machine’s dirty political tactic of fear-mongering for votes — just in time for her struggling reelection bid. As a U.S. senator, Sam will consider and vet every safe opportunity that brings jobs and economic investment to our state so that we can help working Nevada families earn a good living again and undo the economic destruction that Joe Biden and Jacky Rosen have brought to Nevada.” added Kristy Wilkinson, Communications Director for Sam Brown.



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