February 14, 2023

Cortez Masto, Titus Lead Nevada Delegation in Efforts to Prevent Nuclear Waste Storage at Yucca Mountain

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led bicameral legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01), to guarantee state, tribal, and local officials have a seat at the table when a permanent nuclear waste repository is proposed in their backyards. The Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act, cosponsored by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Representatives Steven Horsford (D-Nev.-04) and Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03), will ensure that state, local, and tribal governments are central to decisions regarding a permanent repository, while giving Nevadans a meaningful voice in any plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. 

“Nevadans have made it crystal clear that they don’t want a permanent nuclear waste dump in their backyard,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “I’ve opposed every attempt to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project, and will continue to champion this legislation that respects the voices of our state, local, and tribal governments in Nevada that have been silenced by an unworkable process.”

“Over more than three decades and at every step in the process, the Yucca Mountain Project has sputtered because Nevadans just don’t want nuclear waste stored in our state,” said Representative Dina Titus. “We must codify the protection of their voices into law to protect the health and safety of our communities and guarantee a process that honors the consent of state, local, and tribal leaders. Nevada is not a waste land.”

“For years, I have been fighting alongside our Congressional Delegation to prevent Nevada from becoming the nation’s dumping ground for nuclear and toxic waste,” said Senator Jacky Rosen. “Now, I’m joining my colleagues in introducing legislation that would prevent the federal government from attempting to revive the ill-conceived Yucca Mountain project without clear, written consent from Nevada state and local leaders.”

“Storing nuclear waste in Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District is dangerous, unsafe, and is not supported by my constituents,” said Representative Steven Horsford. “Nevada produces zero nuclear waste but some out-of-state lawmakers believe we should be the nation’s dumping ground. That will not happen under my watch. The Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act ensures that Nevada determines its own future and the will of our residents.”

“As long as I am in Congress, I will remain dedicated to ensuring that Nevada never becomes the nation’s nuclear waste dumping ground, which is why I joined my colleagues in introducing the Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act,” said Representative Susie Lee. “Let’s be clear: from the start, storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain was a failed policy. Yet, year after year, our delegation fights back against efforts to force nuclear waste on our state without our consent. This bill will finally ensure that local community support is a necessary component of nuclear storage siting."

Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen, along with Representatives Titus, Horsford, and Lee, have all fought to ensure Yucca Mountain remains dead. These members of the Nevada delegation successfully fought the Trump Administration’s early efforts to restart the Yucca Mountain licensing process, by preventing funds from being included for the failed site in every final appropriations bill during the Trump Presidency.

Under the Biden Administration, Senator Cortez Masto personally pressed Energy Secretary Granholm to acknowledge that Yucca Mountain is an unworkable site and express her support for a consent-based approach to store the nation’s nuclear waste. She also personally negotiated a deal with the Department of Energy (DOE) to remove the weapons-grade plutonium that was secretly shipped to Nevada. Following continued advocacy from the Senator, DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently completed the removal four years ahead of schedule.

The Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act is based on recommendations from DOE’s 2012 Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future and DOE’s 2017 consent-based siting report. Accordingly, this bill would require that the Secretary of Energy secure written consent from the following entities before moving forward with a nuclear waste repository:

  1. Governor of the host state;
  2. Affected units of local government;
  3. Each contiguous unit of local government primarily affected by the repository; and
  4. Affected Indian tribes.