RENO — Nevada asked the federal government Tuesday to resume a licensing process that will allow state officials to continue their decades-long fight to finally kill the nuclear repository proposed for Yucca Mountain, isolated in Nye County’s desert between Pahrump and Beatty.
The motion, which was filed before the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, would allow the state to argue against the licensing application process for the project, calling it “an unfunded zombie-like federal project … [that] has loomed over Nevada’s citizens and economy for thirty-five years.”
“This is a fight that Nevada has battled since 1987,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement. “The past three presidential administrations have agreed that Yucca Mountain is unworkable. It is time for this administration and the Department of Energy to follow through and support the case made by Nevada’s leaders, legislators, experts and legal team.”
Attorney General Aaron Ford said he’d work to protect the state.
“My office will fight with every legal option at our disposal to ensure that Nevada does not become the dumping site for this country’s nuclear waste. We will protect this state, its environment and its inhabitants with every tool we have,” he said.
Congressional Democrats united
Members of the Nevada’s federal delegation, who have worked to block the project, spoke in support of the motion.
“I’ve opposed every attempt to revive the failed Yucca Mountain project, and it’s time we take this unsuitable site off the table once and for all,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement. “I support Nevada’s efforts to end the licensing process for Yucca Mountain, and I will continue to work with all stakeholders at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels to find a safe, workable, and consent-based alternative.”
Sen. Jacky Rosen called efforts to revive the project “misguided” and slammed the project as “ill-conceived.”
“For years, I have been fighting alongside our delegation to prevent Nevada from ever becoming the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste because it threatens our state’s security, economy and public health,” she said. “That’s why I’m strongly supporting Nevada’s actions to finally put an end to Yucca Mountain, taking steps that would block future misguided efforts to try to revive this ill-conceived project against our state’s consent.”
Other members of the federal delegation joined in supporting the motion, including Rep. Dina Titus.
“The state’s motion is a step in the right direction toward putting an end to Yucca Mountain once and for all. I will continue to lead the fight in opposition to this dangerous project to force a nuclear waste dumping ground on Nevada,” she said.
Said Rep. Steven Horsford: “It’s beyond time to end the debate on Yucca Mountain and protect the residents in my district and across the state.”
Rep. Susie Lee recalled the continual fight against the repository.
“Year after year, we’ve had to fight to ensure that Nevada does not become our nation’s dumping ground for nuclear waste,” she said. “Now, it’s time to put an end to this failed project once and for all. That’s why I support the state of Nevada’s efforts to end the licensing for Yucca Mountain and to open the door to productive consent-based solutions for nuclear waste storage.”
The state also launched a website outlining the project’s history and information outlining its harm to Nevada, including podcasts, articles and videos.
The state’s motion asks the commission to block the licensing application for the project on the grounds that the Department of Energy failed to gain ownership of the land on which the repository would sit and that it failed to obtain restrictions on military aircraft above the area. The motion also alleges the department failed to “include an analysis of human-induced climate change in its license application.”
According to the motion, legal counsel for the state made a “sincere effort” to reach other parties involved in the proceeding. Of those contacted, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, White Pine County, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff and the Nuclear Energy Institute will oppose the motion.
The project stalled in 2011 after years of legal fights, when the Obama administration cut off federal funding.