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Move to strip Yucca Mountain funds fails

WASHINGTON — An amendment backed by Nevada Democrats that would have stripped money for the proposed Yucca Mountain project from a spending bill for the U.S. Department of Energy died in the House on Thursday.

The spending bill, which includes appropriations for military construction and other federal departments, contains $267 million to restart the licensing process to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nye County, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

An amendment to strip that spending from the bill died on a voice vote.

The amendment was filed by Rep. Ruben Kihuen and supported by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus and U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, all Nevada Democrats.

A Senate spending bill approved last month does not include funding for Yucca Mountain.

Differences in the two bills must be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee.

Commissioner responds

On Friday, Nye County Commissioner Dan Schinhofen issued a statement.

“After a lot of press by some representatives of the state of Nevada that they would propose an amendment to delete funding for the license proceeding over the proposed nuclear waste repository, the amendment was voted down by a simple voice vote on the House floor last night and full funding was approved this morning,” he said.

“As usual, there was lots of noise from the state but no substance,” he said.

“Perhaps that is because the state leaders realize their position has no basis in fact or science. Despite what some scaremongers have said, the funding will be used to restart the licensing process to determine if Yucca Mountain meets the safety standards.

“This process will give the state of Nevada a chance to prove its contention that the repository is unsafe,” Schinhofen said. “To repeat, while there is an overwhelming consensus by every reputable government and non-government funded scientist that the repository at Yucca Mountain can be built and operated safely, Congress is providing funding to allow the state of Nevada one more opportunity to make its case.”

Schinhofen said: “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the leadership of the state would reject the offer to have the fate of Yucca Mountain be decided on the facts and the science. I am also disappointed that the leaders of the state are so willing to ignore the wishes of the nine local counties that voted to hear the science, and instead spend taxpayer money on out-of-state law firms to delay the inevitable.”

“If the state would work with Nye County and the other affected counties we could concentrate on safety, transportation routes that avoid Las Vegas and provide jobs and other benefits to the people in Nevada,” Schinhofen stated.

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