Press Releases

Heller Continues Long-Standing Fight Against Yucca On Senate Floor

Washington, D.C.  – Today on the U.S. Senate floor, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) discussed the impact that restarting the licensing process and storing nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain would be devastating to Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada economy.

“Last year, Las Vegas welcomed nearly 43 million visitors,” said Heller. “Any issues with the transportation of nuclear waste to the site, or issues with storage there, would bring devastating consequences to the local, state, and national economies. Mr. President, would you want to come to Las Vegas knowing that high level nuclear waste is being transported very likely through the heart of the strip?”

Senator Heller continued to push a real viable solution to our nation’s nuclear waste problem, his bipartisan legislation, the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act. This legislation permits the construction of a nuclear waste repository only if the Secretary of Energy receives written consent from the governor of the host state, affected local officials, and affected Indian tribes. Under Heller’s legislation, state’s like Nevada that do not want to store spent nuclear waste will not be forced to do so by the federal government. Click HERE or below to watch.

Heller’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. President, I rise today to speak on an issue that is vitally important to the well-being, safety and security of Nevadans – namely, Yucca Mountain.

“Mr. President, I have said it before and will say it again: Yucca Mountain is dead.

“Let me repeat myself, Yucca Mountain is dead, and I will continue to come to the floor every week until we – as a country – move past this ill-conceived project.

“Last week I had the opportunity to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment Subcommittee regarding draft legislation to effectively restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain.

“While I appreciated the opportunity to testify in order to ensure that Nevadans’ voices on this issue are heard, I am concerned that we are using valuable time and taxpayer resources to hold a hearing on a closed issue. 

‘Let me say this one more time: Yucca Mountain is dead.

‘Instead of focusing our efforts on reviving failed proposals of the past, I will continue to encourage my colleagues and this Administration to focus on policies of the future.

“Failure to do so will have very real economic, environmental, and national security implications for Nevadans. 

“Tonight I want to focus on the economic impact that resuming licensing activities for Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository will have on my home state.

“As many of you know, Yucca Mountain is located just 90 miles from the world’s premier tourist, convention, and entertainment destination in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Last year, Las Vegas welcomed nearly 43 million visitors. 

“Over the past decade, the Greater Las Vegas area has been one of the fastest growing in the U.S. with a population that now exceeds 2.1 million people according to an estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Any issues with the transportation of nuclear waste to the site, or issues with storage there, would bring devastating consequences to the local, state, and national economies.

“Mr. President, would you want to come to Las Vegas knowing that high level nuclear waste is being transported very likely through the heart of the strip?

“But let me outline for you the vitally important role tourism plays for the Greater Las Vegas area. 

“This industry accounts for close to 44 percent of local work force, providing close to $17 billion dollars in local wages.

“Moreover, tourism has an estimated $60 billion dollars in local impact.

“Without tourism, every household in Southern Nevada would pay close to $3,000more in taxes.

“That is a significant amount of money to individuals and families working to make ends-meet.

“And people visit not only as tourists, but as business professionals for conferences, meetings, and trade shows – generating another $12 billion in local economic impact.

“Las Vegas has three of the 10 largest convention centers in North America, and has been the number one trade show destination for 23 consecutive years.

“This economic driver within the state is a critical component of another related industry that is vitally important to the state of Nevada, namely the gaming industry.

“This industry in Nevada alone supports over 430,000 jobs, pays more than $18 billion in wages and generates close to $8 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenues.

“Mr. President, the reason I draw your attention and your colleagues’ attention to these numbers is for the fact that Yucca Mountain will have very real negative economic consequences for Nevadans.

“I am proud to come to the floor today to stand with the many concerned citizens, small business operators, and casino operators in opposition to any attempt to restart the repository licensing process.

“I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that radioactive waste is never stored anywhere near the world’s entertainment capital in Las Vegas.

“Rather, I encourage my colleagues to partner with me on identifying viable alternatives for the long-term storage of nuclear waste in areas that are willing to house it.

“I come to the table with a solution to our nation’s nuclear waste program and am proud to have introduced bipartisan legislation on this issue.

“My legislation would allow for the construction of a nuclear waste repository only if the Secretary of Energy has secured written consent from the governor of the host state, affected units of local government, and affected Indian tribes. 

“This is consistent with the consent-based siting initiative to site waste storage and disposal facilities initiated by the Department of Energy in late 2015.

“This open process ensures that a state has a meaningful voice in the process and that no state will be forced to accept nuclear waste against its own will. 

“Identifying communities that are willing hosts for long-term repositories, rather than forcing it upon states that have outright opposed such a site for decades, is the only viable solution to our nation’s nuclear waste problem. 

“Failure to do so will just result in decades of more litigation, wasting more taxpayer dollars without solving the problem at hand.

“Thank you Mr. President.” 

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