Sending Office: Honorable Jacky Rosen
Sent By:
Kelly.Riddle@mail.house.gov

Vote NO on H.R. 3053,
the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017

Opposed by hundreds of organizations, including: League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club, American Gaming Association, Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, Beyond Nuclear, Clean Water
Action, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Environmental Working Group (EWG), Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, League of Women Voters, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen  

Dear Colleague,

As members of the Nevada delegation, we strongly urge you to oppose this reckless, controversial bill as it blatantly ignores the concerns of Nevadans who do not wish to see the federal government turn our state into a dumping ground for nuclear waste from
other states. It also threatens the health and safety of Americans from 329 congressional districts across the country, located in 44 states and D.C., where the radioactive waste will be forced to travel through by train or highway.

Since its inception, the Yucca Mountain Project has bipartisan opposition at the federal, state, and local levels. This opposition currently includes the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sandoval.

Hundreds of environmental and public health advocacy groups have long protested Yucca Mountain, including: Sierra ClubNatural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen,
Friends of the Earth, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Indigenous Environmental Network, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Beyond Nuclear, Clean Water Action.

Background

Yucca Mountain was targeted as the sole site for a geologic nuclear waste repository in 1987 after limited study when Congress passed the so-called “Screw Nevada Bill,” which prematurely terminated the study of two other potential sites.
In the 30 years since, only very limited progress has been made at the site due to vehement opposition from local communities and environmentalists. The truth is we are no closer to finding a long term solution for the country’s long term nuclear waste storage
issues than we were in 1987. Continuing down the path of forcing this waste on Nevada will only waste more time and billions more taxpayer dollars.

A Dangerous Site for a Nuclear Dump

Yucca Mountain is located less than 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, where over 2 million people currently live and millions more visit each year. In fact, in 2016 alone, Las Vegas saw nearly 43 million visitors, many of whom are from your districts. Placing
a nuclear waste repository this close to a dense urban population is irresponsible.

Moreover, the repository site sits atop an aquifer and in a seismically active area, posing a direct threat to Nevada’s water supply and leaving our health and safety to the whim of a natural disaster. In fact, on
July 17, 2017, a 4.1 earthquake
 occurred 33 miles from the proposed nuclear waste site.

A Threat to our National Security and the Readiness of our Air Force

Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, addressed major concerns with the Yucca Mountain Project, citing how it will directly impact Nellis Air Force Base’s ability to complete it’s mission to train service members for war:

“If Yucca Mountain becomes a storage area it needs to operate without impacting the ability of the country to defend itself,” Wilson said Friday in an exclusive interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There is no route across
the range that would not impact testing and training.”

Her concerns are consistent with concerns that Air Force Secretary James Roche and Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper addressed in 2003, when discussing the Department of Energy’s proposed a transportation route that would cut through the Nevada Test and
Training Range, the largest air and ground training space in the contiguous United States.  This transportation route is still part of the licensing application for the Yucca Mountain Project, and could require
flight restrictions that would “negatively impact our readiness activities.”

Major Concerns with H.R. 3053

H.R. 3053 makes a number of changes in law that are unacceptable and should be opposed, including:

  • Increases the amount of high-level nuclear waste to be dumped in Nevada to 110,000 metric tons, a 37% increase.
    • This extraordinary increase in the amount of waste to be shipped has not been studied for safety or environmental impact. All current studies are based on a 70,000 metric ton threshold.
  • Does not provide for a consent-based approach for selecting a permanent repository in Nevada – which the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future said is vital for a successful path forward.
  • 329 congressional districts , in 44 states and D.C., will see high-level nuclear waste transports by rail and on the nation’s busiest
    highways putting millions of Americans at risk.

    • The bill is silent on the 13 specific actions proposed by the National Academies of Science and the recommendations by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future regarding the safety concerns and impacts of
      shipping high-level nuclear waste across the country.
  • Undermines NEPA for the permitting and construction of infrastructure related to a permanent repository.
  • Allows the EPA Administrator to make changes in radiation protection standards prior to final licensing decision.

It is clear that reopening the Yucca Mountain project leaves our constituents and your constituents at risk. Dumping billions of dollars into this project is a reckless waste of federal funds. We urge you to oppose H.R. 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments
Act, and oppose any attempts to reopen the hazardous Yucca Mountain facility. Thank you for your attention to this matter of great importance to all Nevadans.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ruben J. Kihuen                             Jacky Rosen                                    Dina Titus

Member of Congress                      Member of Congress                      Member of Congress

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Armed Services, Budget, Energy, Environment, Science, Transportation

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0