Cortez Masto: Push for Yucca Mountain waste of money

U.S Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said Thursday in Las Vegas that any push to revive the Yucca Mountain Project would be a “waste of time” and taxpayer money.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Energy, Rick Perry, said last week that the site could not be ruled out as a site to store the nation’s nuclear waste.

Speaking at a Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday in Las Vegas, Cortez Masto said the site is no more “than a hole in the ground,” and that it would take years of construction just to get the site primed to do so.

Cortez Masto’s Republican counterpart, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, as well as GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval and Nevada’s U.S. Reps. Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen also oppose the project.

The comments come amid a push from U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, to revive the project. Shimkus, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment, said this month he would push to include Yucca Mountain in the nation’s nuclear waste plan.

But Cortez Masto said besides the lack of infrastructure at the location, the project will be tied up in federal lawsuits for years.

“There are currently four federal lawsuits the state of Nevada has pending to prevent Yucca Mountain,” Cortez Masto told the gathering of business leaders. And it was she who filed those lawsuits when she was Nevada’s Attorney General.

The discovery process alone would take two to three years, Cortez Masto added.

The comments from Cortez Masto came on a trip back to Nevada during her first recess from Congress.

The freshman senator also talked about the need to ensure that Nevada’s aging dams, as well as funding for Interstate 11, are included in Trump’s promised infrastructure plan.

Before the luncheon, Cortez Masto spoke to clean-energy advocates about the need for Nevada to be a leader in clean energies, especially in the solar field.

Contact Colton Lochhead at Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.