Environment | Politics

Bill requires tribal consent for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site






A view of Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Photo: Department of Energy

Lawmakers from Nevada are hoping they can keep the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository from becoming a reality under the the administration of Republican president-elect Donald Trump.

Five members of the state's Congressional delegation introduced the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act in the House and in the Senate on Wednesday. The bipartisan effort [H.R.456 | S.95] requires the Department of Energy to obtain written approval from state, local and tribal governments before any nuclear waste site can be built.

“Yucca Mountain is not a viable solution for dealing with nuclear waste,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), a new member of Congress and a new member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a press release. “Nevadans have been clear that they do not want a nuclear dumping site in their back yard and any discussions of sites for nuclear repositories must include the states and key stakeholders."

Nearly two dozen tribes in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado and Utah are affected by the proposed waste dump, which has sat in limbo for decades due to regulatory, legal and political hurdles. The repository would be located on land promised to the Western Shoshone people under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley.

Trump hasn't said whether he supports completion of the project and neither has former Texas governor Rick Perry, his nominee for Secretary of Energy. But his greatagain.gov transition team has asked the department if there are any legal barriers to moving forward, The Associated Press reported.

Perry's confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is scheduled for January 19. He's likely to be asked about Yucca Mountain.

The Obama administration kept the project in limbo due to concerns from Nevada. A federal court, however, ordered resumption of the review process despite the objections.

“You’re not going to get there unless it’s a consent-based approach,” outgoing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at the National Press Club on Wednesday, the AP reported.

Read More on the Story:
Energy chief: Bid to revive Nevada nuclear waste dump doomed (AP 1/11)
Yucca Mountain won’t be site for nuclear waste, energy secretary says (The Las Vegas Review-Journal 1/11)
Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site May Get a Second Look Under Trump (Environmental Leader 1/12)

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Ian Zabarte: Western Shoshone territory in Nevada is not for sale (10/02)
Key lawmakers remain opposed to Yucca Mountain nuclear dump (01/30)
Court orders resumption of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site (08/14)
Editorial: Nuclear waste storage problem deserves a new solution (07/05)
Mark Trahant: Tragedy in Japan puts Yucca Mountain in scrutiny (03/14)