Morning Briefing - February 26, 2019
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February 26, 2019

Senate Delegation to Visit Yucca Mountain

By ExchangeMonitor

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) this week will lead a handful of his colleagues on a visit to the site of the planned nuclear waste repository below Yucca Mountain, Nev.

“Senator Alexander is leading a bipartisan delegation of Senators to Yucca Mountain in Nevada as part of his ongoing effort to help solve the nuclear waste stalemate so nuclear power has a future in our country and continues to provide carbon-free electricity,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Monday.

Alexander’s office did not provide additional details of the trip, including the schedule and which senators are participating.

Politico reported Monday that the other potentially Yucca-bound senators are Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

“I’ll be going to Yucca Mountain to help educate my colleagues about how the project is misguided & dangerous, & cost taxpayers $19 billion with nothing to show for it,” Cortez Masto, who like the rest of Nevada’s delegation to Congress, vehemently opposes the Yucca Mountain plan, tweeted on Friday. “I’m bringing Nevadans’ voices with me & I will keep fighting any effort to store nuclear waste in our backyards.”

Alexander and Feinstein are the top members of the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee, which writes the upper chamber’s first draft of the funding bill for the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission – respectively, the applicant and adjudicator of the license application filed in 2008 for the Yucca Mountain facility. The licensing proceeding has been frozen for the better part of a decade, and Congress has so far rejected the Trump administration’s requests for funding to restart the process.

The White House is expected to issue its fiscal 2020 budget plan in March. Issue observers have said they expect another effort to restart Yucca licensing.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s staff has said nuclear waste can be safely stored at Yucca Mountain for up to one million years, and now Congress should decide if the licensing process can continue to determine if Yucca Mountain is safe,” according to the Alexander statement.