Let me be clear, I do not believe Yucca Mountain should become a simple dumping site for the nation's nuclear waste. I believe the Administration and Department of Energy (DOE) should keep funding for the project, while Congress works with the DOE to make the location a bastion of nuclear research and reprocessing. This position is proven by my voting record in Congress.
In fact, when the 115th Congress considered the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act (H.R. 3053), a bill to make Yucca Mountain the nation's permanent repository for nuclear waste, I voted against it. After considering the possibility of this legislation becoming law, I worked to give Nevada a seat at the table through an amendment that would have instituted comprehensive and responsible measures in Nevada's best interest.
Unfortunately, after three years of work on these priorities, the House Rules Committee deemed my amendment out of order because it included a transportation component. The reason being, if nuclear waste is going to potentially be transported across state lines via surface or rail transportation, then it's probably responsible to begin discussing transportation plans at the beginning stages of this project. My amendment being ruled out of order led me back to where this entire discussion started: if I am only given a chance to vote on a bill to designate Nevada as the nation's nuclear land fill – I will not support it.
Since many Americans throughout the nation and lawmakers in Congress continue to work to open the facility and bring it online, Nevadans should not choose to ignore the issue and think it's off the table. Instead, Nevada's congressional delegation should work to dictate the terms of the repository under the best conditions for our state. I believe part of that means advancing policies that will prioritize research and economic development opportunities throughout our state.
Please know that I will continue working with my Nevada colleagues on thoughtful approaches to the issue should legislation to accelerate the licensing application at Yucca Mountain be introduced in the 116th Congress.