Roughly three months after officially kicking off his 2014 campaign, Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-4) was back in Pahrump stumping for next year’s midterm elections.
The freshman congressman held a meeting at the town annex building on Sunday before a relatively light turnout of a few local elected officials and a handful of residents.
Prior to taking questions from attendees, the congressman provided some comments about the recent government shutdown and how it affected the U.S. economy afterward.
He noted that the already backlogged Veterans Administration claims offices experienced even more setbacks due to the government closure.
“In my opinion, it was reckless, irresponsible and completely unnecessary. It contributed to a lot of inefficiency, including the fact that we are now experiencing a backlog on the VA claims again. We had actually made a lot of progress from the beginning of the year through August where the backlog was getting caught up and we were starting to make headway. There was a lot of pressure to be more responsive to that issue but the shutdown unfortunately caused us to lose a lot of that progress. That is another issue that we want to take back and hear from you about things we should be more focused on,” he said.
Following his opening remarks, Horsford’s first question came from Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen.
The commissioner’s query was centered on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Safety Evaluation Report related to disposal of high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.
“As you know, the State of Nevada’s last appeal to stop the NRC from releasing the Safety Evaluation Reports regarding Yucca Mountain was thrown out by the court of appeals. I was wondering when or if you would join with the seven rural counties that have signed a resolution calling on the NRC to release the safety evaluations report that costs us $15 billion over 30 years time so we can finally put this to rest?” the commissioner asked.
Supporters of the project maintain that releasing the safety evaluation report should be the next action for the NRC to take in order to proceed with the project.
Horsford, however, told the group that he is standing by Gov. Brian Sandoval’s position on the fate of the site.
As recent as August of this year, the governor remained defiant on the matter of having nuclear waste shipped to the Silver State from other parts of the country.
Pahrump Town Board member Dr. Tom Waters said on Monday that though he agrees with the congressman on a number of issues related to Nevada, Yucca Mountain is not one of them.
“I am in favor of Yucca Mountain and moving forward with the licensing process. I am not in favor of cancelling it for political reasons. As far as I’m concerned, the cancellation of the licensing process is strictly political and has nothing to do with science or nuclear waste. Right now the state is unified that Yucca Mountain should not be reopened but we have spent billions of dollars and a lot of time on this.
The law says once we complete the licensing process, that will determine if it’s safe or not. Just to use a political side to say it’s not safe without letting science do anything to make a determination, I think is wrong,” he said.
Horsford, meanwhile, said he remains staunchly opposed to the Yucca Mountain project and will aggressively pursue actions to prevent its construction.
“My position is the position of the governor, which is the state’s position. We will continue to oppose the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. That is the governor’s position and I am not going to break from the state’s position on that issue,” he said.
Economic development in Nye County was another issue addressed during the meeting.