Morning Briefing - February 28, 2019
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February 28, 2019

Senators Delay Trip to Yucca Mountain

By ExchangeMonitor

A planned trip this week by several U.S. senators to the proposed site of a nuclear waste repository in Nevada has been canceled, Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) office said Wednesday.

“The CODEL is being rescheduled,” a spokesperson for Alexander said by email, referring to the congressional delegation.

The problem appeared to be scheduling conflicts with some of the lawmakers who were scheduled to make the trip Friday. The spokesperson did not say when it might be rescheduled.

Earlier in the week, Alexander’s office said the visit to the Yucca Mountain site, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was “part of his ongoing effort to help solve the nuclear waste stalemate.” Politico reported that the other senators expected to participate were Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

Cortez Masto confirmed by Twitter last week that she planned to attend to again make the case that the underground disposal facility for other states’ radioactive waste is a no-go for Nevada.

Congress in 1987 designated Yucca Mountain as the eventual site to permanently keep U.S. high-level radioactive waste from defense nuclear operations and spent fuel from commercial power reactors. The Department of Energy submitted its license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008, but the Obama administration defunded the proceeding two years later.

As the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee, Alexander and Feinstein could insert money into Congress’ next appropriations to resume licensing. The panel, and Congress as a whole, have in the last two years rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to secure funding to restart that process.