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May 27, 2015

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Is fight over storing nuclear waste in Nevada ready to resume?

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Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Energy Department plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, an extinct volcano about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Congressional lawmakers could resume butting heads over Yucca Mountain next month, when a bipartisan team of senators starts circulating a draft nuclear waste bill.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Ron Wyden told reporters at the annual Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy summit in National Harbor, Md., that he would “have something to share during this work period,” according to a report in POLITICO. The Senate is next scheduled to disband for a recess on March 25.

Wyden has been working with his Republican Energy Committee counterpart, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, on proposals to advance energy legislation that has been stymied by discord in Congress.

Wyden and Murkowski have pledged repeatedly to make every legislative effort in their committee a bipartisan one.

According to the report, Wyden did not promise his draft bill will take Yucca Mountain off the table. He told reporters that he had heard the House “loud and clear” when it voted last term to keep the money flowing to the Nevada nuclear waste site project.

Wyden’s bill will, however, likely call for a second repository, according to the report.

Since he became majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid has served as the ultimate block against funding Yucca Mountain, despite what bipartisan direction has come from the House to keep the project running.

Reid took Wyden’s reported comments as a positive sign.

“I am pleased that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working on a new approach to managing our nation’s nuclear waste that does not involve dumping it in Nevada,” Reid said in a statement today. “The Yucca Mountain project is dead, and I will not back down from fighting efforts to resurrect the ill-conceived project.”

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