Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced that he successfully worked to ensure that funding requested by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to support licensing activities at Yucca Mountain was excluded from the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill that the U.S. Senate approved today. Heller was also successful in his efforts to remove the $30 million to store defense nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain from the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which was passed by the U.S. Senate last week.

In an April letter to U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Heller expressed his strong opposition to the $120 million request in DOE’s budget to revive Yucca Mountain, stating that the failed project has already wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. The letter is available HERE. That same month, Heller expressed his concern to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Feinstein about the $48 million request in NRC’s budget for Yucca Mountain, and he encouraged them to instead devote resources to consent-based siting for the storage of nuclear waste. In his letter, Heller cited his correspondence with NRC Chairman Svinicki regarding safety concerns as well as his request for a commitment from the NRC to implement procedural safeguards. The letter is available HERE.

“Once again, despite relentless attempts in the U.S. House of Representatives to bring nuclear waste to Nevada, I have been able to ensure that efforts to revive Yucca Mountain are killed in the U.S. Senate,” said Heller. “Whether its removing $30 million to store defense nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain from legislation that we passed last week, or making sure that our Energy and Water Appropriations bill excludes the funding requested to revive the failed project, I continue to pursue every available avenue to stonewall action that would breathe life into the failed project. Thanks to my leadership in the U.S. Senate, Nevada will not serve as the nation’s nuclear waste dump and I’ll continue my fight to make sure of it.” 

Last year, the House of Representatives advanced funding that would restart the licensing process at Yucca Mountain. However, Heller was able to successfully ensure that the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Appropriations bill did not include any funding for the project. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives approved on a bipartisan vote the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act, H.R.3053, legislation to jumpstart Yucca Mountain and direct the NRC to decide whether to approve construction of the waste repository within 30 months. Heller reacted by immediately putting a hold on the bill in the U.S. Senate, and he urged a consent-based approach, such as his bipartisan 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.

Heller’s previous work to stop Yucca Mountain from being funded

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