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Local News

Brown: Failure to bring nuclear waste to NV is an ‘incredible loss of revenue for our state’

(Credit: Sam Brown campaign/Nevada Current)

Hugh Jackson, Nevada Current
April 30, 2024

While campaigning for U.S. Senate in 2022, Sam Brown, now the Republican frontrunner for the U.S. Senate nomination in 2024, told a campaign gathering that he supported bringing nuclear waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants to Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The Los Angeles Times Tuesday published audio of previously unreported remarks Brown made during a 2022 campaign event in Henderson, where Brown said that not allowing nuclear waste in Nevada represented “an incredible loss of revenue for our state.”

Ever since the so-called “Screw Nevada” bill passed by Congress in 1987 singling out the Yucca Mountain site northwest of Las Vegas to be studied as the nation’s nuclear waste facility, opposition from the Nevada public and the state’s politicians of both parties has been overwhelming.

In the 2022 recording obtained by the Times, asked his opinion about the Yucca Mountain project, Brown said “one of the things I’m afraid of is a lack of understanding and the fearmongering that Harry Reid and others have spread,” and “that we could miss an incredible opportunity for revenue for our state in the future.”

“If we don’t act soon,” Brown added, “other states like Texas and New Mexico, right now, are assessing whether or not they can essentially steal that opportunity from us. And at the end of the day, we all know Nevada could use another great source of revenue and it sure would be a shame if we didn’t monopolize on that and become a central hub of new development that we can do at Yucca.”

The Times story published Tuesday included a statement provided by Brown’s campaign in which he did not specifically reassert support for bringing nuclear waste to Nevada, but said “I’m always interested in economic opportunities for Nevada that better diversify our economy.”

Tuesday’s surfacing of Brown’s 2022 remarks comes on the heels of a U.S. House Energy and Commerce hearing earlier this month in which chair Cathy McMorris Rogers and other Republicans called for  restarting the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain project.

Days later, during a Senate Energy Committee hearing, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto got reassurances from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm that there is no funding in President Joe Biden’s budget for restarting the relicensing process, and no intention to ever include any.

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, who Brown hopes to challenge in the general election, issued a statement blasting Brown for his remarks obtained by the Times

“For decades, Nevadans across party lines have been clear that we will not allow our state to become the dumping ground for the rest of the nation’s nuclear waste,” Rosen said. “I’ve been fighting against Washington politicians trying to force nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain since Sam Brown was still living in Texas, and his extreme support for this dangerous and unpopular project underscores how little he understands the needs of our state.”

Rosen was first elected to the U.S. House in 2016. Brown moved to Nevada in 2018.

Yucca Mountain was officially designated as the nation’s nuclear waste “repository” during the administration of George W. Bush, in 2002. But the project was the subject of legal and regulatory proceedings for the next several years, until the administration of Barack Obama ordered the Department of Energy to discontinue its licensing application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and eliminated federal funding for the project.

While president, Donald Trump attempted to restart funding for Yucca, but was thwarted by Congress. Trump reversed positions during the 2022 campaign cycle in an effort to help Adam Laxalt, the Republican who defeated Brown in the 2022 Senate primary but lost to Cortez Masto in the general election. The Biden administration has never included funding for the Yucca Mountain project.

The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, which includes a playbook for actions the influential organization suggests should be urgent priorities in a second Trump administration, calls for resuming and funding the Yucca Mountain licensing process.

Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: info@nevadacurrent.com. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Nevada Current under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.