The country’s 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, stored now in 35 states at 121 sites, will not be headed to Yucca Mountain after all, President Trump said in a tweet this week.
The administration confirmed later that there would be no money in the next federal budget for for Yucca Mountain research or development. In his tweet, Trump said he was dropping plans to create a spent fuel repository in Nevada due local opposition to it. “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain,” the president wrote, “and my Administration will RESPECT you! Congress and previous Administrations have long failed to find lasting solutions — my Administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches — I’m confident we can get it done!”
Trump did not mention whether there would be funding provided to look for an alternative to Yucca Mountain, but the L.A. Times quoted Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) as saying in a tweet, “I look forward to working with you on this critical issue for Nevada and ensuring your budget doesn’t include any funding to restart the failed Yucca Mountain project that a majority of Nevadans reject, regardless of party.”
The decision reverses Trump’s previous intentions for the nation’s spent fuel waste. Previous budgets have included $120 million to initiate a restart policy for the project, which has had stop and go support from previous administrations. President Barack Obama pulled support from the project in 2010.
A classic “not in my backyard” project, the government has spent $15 billion on Yucca mountain, but not made much headway, if at all, on convincing the state’s voters that the project is worthy of their support.
Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) was blunt about the president’s decision. “They say if you can’t beat them, join them,” a statement said. “President Trump tried to shove nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain down our throats for three years. We beat him badly – three times in a row – and he knows it.”
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