April 02, 2019

Cortez Masto Grills Secretary Perry Over Yucca Mountain

ENR Energy Budget Hearing

Washington, D.C. – At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) grilled Energy Secretary Rick Perry about his Department’s budget request for $116 million to restart licensing activities at Yucca Mountain. Senator Cortez Masto highlighted Nevadans’ strong opposition to the project and questioned Secretary Perry about the hazards posed by storing nuclear waste in Nevada. 

“The most recent geological survey taken in this area lists the region to be a moderate to high seismic hazard. So my question to you is, have you taken these seismic hazard reports into consideration as you continue to push to open Yucca Mountain?” the senator asked Perry.

After she pressed again, Perry responded, “I feel quite certain that we would, senator.” Senator Cortez Masto called on the Energy Secretary to provide her with details about his Department’s analysis.

Senator Cortez Masto also raised concerns about the threat to local communities given Yucca Mountain’s proximity to Nellis Air Force Base, where certain “red flag” military exercises are carried out using real ammunition.

“Even former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has stated that transportation of nuclear waste near the range could impact testing and training. Do you think it is safe to store waste nearby even with the threat that errant ordnance or any other mishap near Yucca Mountain could have an extreme negative impact on the neighboring public?” the senator asked.

Perry replied: “I think it’s safe, senator…”

“So can I see your analysis instead of your opinion? I’ve been there, sir,” said Cortez Masto.

Full video is of this exchange is available here.