ICYMI: 2024 GOP Hopefuls Want to Make Nevada a Nuclear Waste Dumping Ground

As the Nevada Independent reported, the 2024 Republican field’s extreme records on Yucca Mountain are on full display: Everyone from Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis to Nikki Haley and Tim Scott has supported efforts to make the Silver State a nuclear waste dump, putting them out of step with the majority of Nevadans and even Nevada Republicans.

The Nevada Independent: Where Republican presidential candidates stand on Yucca Mountain

Gabby Birenbaum
June 10, 2023

Key Points:

  • When Donald Trump first took office, his personal opinion on the use of Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste seemed unclear. But his Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, made the administration’s position clear — he wanted to proceed with the use of the site, which had been developed in the 1980s but been successfully diverted ever since by Nevada lawmakers.
  • Trump’s 2017 budget called for Yucca funding, and Perry testified to Congress about its “moral obligation” to provide the funds to bring the site online. Though the House took him up on it, the bill died in the Senate as part of an effort to protect then-Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who was up for re-election the next year. The Nevada delegation beat back multiple subsequent attempts to license the project in 2019.
  • None of the Republican campaigns responded to inquiries about their candidates’ stances on the nuclear waste storage site. But quite a few have prior statements or voting records on Yucca…
  • During his time in Congress, DeSantis, like all but five House Republicans, voted for the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018, which would have authorized the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. And he took several votes over his five years in the House to the same effect, voting against amendments stripping Yucca funding from federal budgets.
  • “Ron DeSantis Wants to Make Nevada a Nuclear Waste Dumping Ground…And It Gets Worse From There,” read a May statement from team Trump.
  • Perhaps DeSantis will respond at former Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s Basque Fry next weekend, which he’s slated to headline.
  • As governor of South Carolina in 2015, Nikki Haley had some harsh words for then-President Barack Obama and then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who convinced Obama to drop Yucca plans. “President Obama and Harry Reid are willing to shut down Yucca and make South Carolina a permanent dumping ground to save Harry Reid’s Senate seat.” Haley said at the time. “That’s wrong. We are not interested in investing in any more Nevada real estate when we get nothing in return.” 
  • As a member of Congress since 2011, [Tim] Scott was on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources committee in 2014, when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s report finding that Yucca was a safe storage site came out. “Despite politically motivated delays to the Yucca Mountain project, it is clearer than ever that this is the safest, most viable location for storing our nation’s nuclear waste,” Scott said at the time, in a shot at Reid. “We must have a long-term strategy, as this is not an issue that can be wished away.” 



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