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November 18, 2019

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Jobs, not waste: Measure seeks alternative uses for Yucca Mountain

Yucca Mountain Tour

John Locher / AP

Train tracks are seen through Yucca Mountain during a congressional tour Thursday, April 9, 2015, near Mercury.

Updated Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 3:57 p.m.

Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have continued to file legislation aimed at Yucca Mountain.

Sen. Jacky Rosen and Rep. Susie Lee, along with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Mark Amodei and Steven Horsford, introduced the Jobs, Not Waste Act, which would put a hold on any action on the Yucca Mountain site.

The act would prohibit the energy secretary from moving on essentially any action related to the Yucca Mountain site before the director of the Office of Management and Budget conducts a study on the economic benefits of alternative uses of the site, and Congress holds a hearing on the findings.

The bill outlines alternative uses that could be implemented at the Yucca Mountain site such as an unmanned aircraft command facility, a secure data center, renewable energy development and others.

“This bill would prohibit the Department of Energy from moving forward with its dangerous and costly nuclear waste repository plan and would require Congress to explore alternative options for Yucca Mountain, such as turning the site into a data storage center or into a facility used by our military for unmanned aircraft systems,” Sen. Rosen said in a statement. “Any of these options could help create jobs without threatening the health and safety of Nevada families.”

Nevada’s Democratic delegation has been active this week. On Tuesday, all Nevada Democrats signed on to the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act, which would require approval of the governor and impacted local governments and tribes before any money could be spent on a nuclear waste repository from the federal Nuclear Waste Fund. The act would be applicable to all states.

“Nevada has made it clear that we do not want our state to become the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste, and it’s time for Washington, D.C., to listen and accept it. Instead of wasting more time and money by trying to force something we don’t want onto our state, the Department of Energy can and should explore other options for Yucca Mountain,” Lee said in a statement.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has also been active in the pushback against nuclear waste shipments to the state, requesting a meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the earlier, secret shipment of weapons-grade plutonium into the state.

“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on thoughtful approaches to the issue,” Amodei said in a statement.

Cortez Masto echoed the statements of other lawmakers in the threat she says Yucca Mountain poses.

“The science supporting Yucca Mountain is unsound and presents a clear threat to America’s national security, as well as the safety of Nevadans,” she said in a statement. “It’s important that we have all of the facts and that Washington hears the voices of Nevadans who do not want nuclear waste in their backyards.”