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Touring Yucca Mountain, energy secretary ruffles Nev. feathers


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Touring Yucca Mountain, energy secretary ruffles Nev. feathers

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Yucca Mountain, the proposed and long-delayed nuclear waste storage site, on March 27 without notifying Nevada's congressional delegation. In a statement, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., lashed out at the U.S. Department of Energy chief and former Texas governor for his unannounced visit to the defunded deep geological repository, which the Trump administration wants relicensed and opened to dispose of spent fuel currently stored at nuclear power plants across the country.

Titus felt "troubled" by the visit less than two weeks after "Rick Perry's friends" in the Texas Attorney General's Office sued the DOE and other federal agencies for failing to license the "Yucca Mountain waste dump" and President Donald Trump requested $120 million to fund the site and kick-start an interim nuclear waste storage program as part of the administration's proposed budget. The March 15 lawsuit criticized the federal government for ignoring the "growing problem" of nuclear waste since missing a 2012 deadline to fully license and build a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain as mandated by the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

"Earlier this year, I wrote to President Trump to request that his administration visit Nevada and meet with experts who have spent years studying why the project imperils our state and nearly every congressional district in the country," explained Titus. "The Trump administration has yet to acknowledge the invitation."

Titus also accused the new Republican presidential administration of ignoring the strong opposition within the state against storing radioactive materials at Yucca Mountain, which was defunded and had its licensing review halted in 2010 under former President Barack Obama and then-Democratic Majority Leader and Nevada Senator Harry Reid. The January departures of both the Obama administration and Sen. Reid have revived Republican-led efforts to restart the licensing review of Yucca Mountain by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"Nevadans do not want a project that has dangerous implications for the environment, economy, and security of the region," countered Titus. "Southern Nevada is not a wasteland, and I will continue to fight to protect it from becoming a dangerous dumping ground."

The DOE did not immediately return request for comment on March 27.