Monday, June 17, 2013 | 6:30 p.m.
The annual federal fiscal fight over Yucca Mountain is on once again, now that House Republicans have released their annual appropriations proposal for fiscal 2014.
The House Appropriations Committee committed $25 million “to support Yucca Mountain activities to continue the viability of the program for the future.”
The program in question dates back to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which designated Nevada and Yucca Mountain as the national dumpsite for nuclear waste.
But the project has been on ice for many years, thanks to the concerted opposition of the Nevada delegation and especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has managed to kill efforts to refund the Yucca waste dump from his leadership position in the Senate.
Since President Barack Obama took office, he has not requested any money be directed toward Yucca Mountain in his annual budget.
Under Obama, experts have also taken a fresh look at the national nuclear waste policy, mainly through a Blue Ribbon Commission that in early 2012 recommended the country begin looking for an alternative to the Yucca site.
In the shorter term, Yucca Mountain’s fate is in the hands of federal appeals courts, which will soon decide whether the federal government has to continue working with what few funds remain to develop Yucca Mountain, or whether the project may continue to be treated as effectively dead. The government has about $10 million of holdover funds left that is earmarked for the Yucca waste dump project.
Many in Congress represent nuclear-dependent districts that have been paying toward a national waste depository fund for years, and are eager to see Yucca come back online.
“The bill continues congressional efforts to roll back the Obama administration’s politically motivated Yucca Mountain policy that runs contrary to the will of the Congress and the American people,” the appropriations committee wrote in an announcement with the unveiling of their bill.
The entire Nevada delegation has stated its opposition to Yucca being turned into a nuclear dump.