Top casino and tourism executives in Nevada on Monday told Congress that moving forward with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository could be devastating for the state’s economic future.
In an open letter to the members of the House and Senate, Las Vegas Sands President and CEO Sheldon Adelson and 11 other executives said Yucca Mountain is roughly 90 miles from Las Vegas. The city attracted more than 42 million visitors last year, “and we are on pace to meet or break that figure in 2019,” according to the letter, first reported by The Nevada Independent.
Another 2.2 million people live in the Las Vegas Valley, the executives wrote.
“The combination of these factors has a profound impact on the amount of revenue generated for Nevada’s general fund,” the letter says. “The impacts nuclear waste could have on our visitors and our employees would unquestionably have severe negative implications for Nevada’s future and economic growth.”
Along with Adelson, signatories included American Gaming Association President and CEO William Miller Jr., MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO James Murren, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald, and Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine.
For fiscal 2020, the Trump administration has requested nearly $116 million for the Department of Energy and $38.5 million at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume licensing of the Yucca Mountain disposal facility. The House and Senate have not yet released their initial appropriations bills covering the two agencies.
Jordan Haverly, spokesman for resolutely pro-Yucca Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), noted Monday that millions of tourists visit large U.S. cities that sit near nuclear power plants with spent reactor fuel that would eventually go into the national repository.
“If spent nuclear fuel 90 miles from the Las Vegas Strip would stop 42 million people from visiting annually, why didn’t the spent nuclear fuel sitting 49 miles from the Chicago Loop stop 55 million people from visiting last year?” he tweeted.