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Congressman Kihuen wants to defund Yucca licensing

U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-North Las Vegas, introduced an amendment to a House appropriations bill to eliminate $120 million for Yucca Mountain licensing.

U.S. Reps. Jacky Rosen, D-Henderson, and Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, also joined as co-sponsors of the measure.

“We have been down this road before, and as I have said many times, Yucca Mountain is not a dumping ground for nuclear waste,” Kihuen said in a statement.

“Nuclear waste stored at Yucca Mountain will threaten the safety of Nevadans, in addition to putting millions of visitors at risk,” Kihuen said. “There are plenty of ways to utilize the existing infrastructure at Yucca Mountain, however, funding a dead project and stuffing a mountain with nuclear waste is not the answer.”

The House is expected to vote on the bill next week.

Licensing for Yucca Mountain in Nye County is currently included in the Defense, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development National Security Appropriations Act of 2017.

Earlier this week, the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee approved a spending bill that does not include $120 million requested by the Trump administration for Yucca Mountain licensing. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill on Thursday.

Nye County reacts

Officials in Nye County, home of Yucca Mountain, gave Kihuen’s proposed amendment a chilly reception.

Dan Schinhofen, Nye County commission chairman, who sees the proposed repository as an economic engine for the county and Nevada, questioned why most members of the Nevada congressional delegation are intent on opposing the project.

“I am disappointed in Rep. Kihuen,” Schinhofen said. “When I met with him in D.C. it was clear to me that he was not in favor of the repository, but our discussion about allowing the science to be heard was not in dispute. While six of the counties he represents have gone on record as supporting having the license hearings, he is busy trying to torpedo the process.”

“I hope that political science is not once again trumping nuclear science,” Schinhofen said.

Lorinda Wichman, another Nye County commissioner, said Yucca Mountain “is the law.”

“The people deserve to hear the science. The ratepayers and the taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to study Yucca. They have also spent decades in research and study,” Wichman said in an emailed statement. “It seems a willful and unethical practice to withhold the findings from the public. Politics has hijacked science in the past, it is time to have science and the law outweigh politics.”

Nye County is part of Kihuen’s 4th Congressional District. It also includes northern Clark County, Lincoln, Esmeralda, Mineral counties and the southern part of Lyon County.

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @dariasokolova77

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