Washington, D.C. – During today’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) blasted Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who recently suggested that the government has a ‘moral obligation’ to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Perry’s statement is ill-conceived and a complete reversal of the position he expressed in January that decisions concerning nuclear waste siting should be left to the states.
Cortez Masto said, “When you were nominated for Secretary of Energy, we had a frank and serious conversation about my grave concerns about siting nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Since you visited the site, you went from touting the importance of state sovereignty to a full-throated support for depositing the nation’s waste in Nevada, against the will of my state, undermining the state’s right to defend its communities against dangerous nuclear waste. What has prompted such a change in your viewpoint?”
Cortez Masto continued, “All that Nevada is asking for is consent-based siting, which your predecessor has agreed should occur. So why is that such a difficult concept? Why is that something that you think should not occur, and in fact, this Yucca Mountain process should go forward? And, now you’re suggesting that there should be interim storage at the Nevada National Security Site, which is a whole new conversation we haven’t had before. That is not something that we are going to support in the state of Nevada.”
“Even the nominee to be your Deputy Secretary, Dan Brouillette, recently commented during his confirmation hearing that if the science behind Yucca Mountain is not there, then he would not support the project. So if you can’t get behind consent-based siting, which is what we should be looking at for all states, will you at least look at the science and commit that if the science isn’t there and it’s not workable, then we should not store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain? Can you commit to that?”
When pressed, Secretary Perry stated that he would not support Yucca Mountain if scientific research indicates that the project is unsafe. Cortez Masto made it clear that the state of Nevada is united in its vehement opposition to the Trump Administration’s plan to force communities in Nevada to serve as the country’s nuclear waste dumping sites.
Watch Cortez Masto’s full questioning here.