White House Proposes Reviving Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site
The White House’s 2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120 million for nuclear waste programs, including the restart of licensing for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project stalled for years by lawsuits and local opposition.
The move signals that President Donald Trump may consider that nuclear waste solutions could extend the lives of existing U.S. nuclear power plants and speed up innovations in next-generation nuclear plants that backers say are safer than previous reactors.
Congress will debate the budget, and it is uncertain whether funds for waste will remain in the plan.
While Yucca Mountain would store waste on a practically permanent basis, the budget money would also support programs for storing waste at interim sites before Yucca opens.
“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security and reduce future taxpayer burden,” according to a summary of the budget.
Yucca has been studied by the U.S. government since the 1970s as a potential repository for the nation’s radioactive waste, and billions of dollars have been spent on it.
But Yucca has never opened because of legal challenges and widespread opposition from local politicians, environmentalists and Native American groups.
In 2010, then-President Barack Obama withdrew the license to store waste at Yucca amid opposition from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Democrat from Nevada.