WASHINGTON — A New York lawmaker instrumental in blocking federal funding to develop Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository announced Thursday that she would retire from Congress after 30 years of service.
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said she would not seek re-election following 16 terms representing affluent suburbs of New York City.
Lowey led the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which controls spending for all federal programs, including those under the Department of Energy. Her departure will create a scramble for a coveted seat.
“I am especially grateful to Chairwoman Lowey for her leadership in blocking the dangerous efforts to revitalize Yucca Mountain — and I look forward to working with her eventual successor to do the same,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.
The Appropriations Committee earlier this year blocked an attempt to insert $130 million sought by the Trump administration into a spending bill to revive the licensing process to develop Yucca Mountain.
That process was halted in 2011 under the Obama administration.
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A House subcommittee recently passed a bill that would authorize preparation of Yucca Mountain in Nevada to store nuclear waste, although the House and Senate have not included funds in spending bills.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and climate change on Sept. 26 passed a bill that would allow the Department of Energy to undertake “infrastructure activities” for operation of Yucca Mountain as a radioactive waste repository.
Yucca Mountain was designated in 1987 by Congress as the sole site for nuclear waste storage produced by power plants. Political opposition and research has delayed the project for three decades.
Although the project is favored by Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is located, and several rural counties, the state of Nevada, tribal leaders, conservation groups and business leaders oppose transporting and storing nuclear waste in Nye County and about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
— Gary Martin, Special to the Pahrump Valley Times