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Nuclear Waste Issue Dominates Contentious Nevada Senate Race

Nuclear waste storage could roil Nevada U.S. Senate race (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sam Brown is facing backlash from Democrats for his 2022 remarks supporting the storage of federal nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.

Nevada lawmakers from both parties have vehemently opposed a federal plan to turn the isolated southwest Nevada mountain into a nuclear waste storage facility for decades. Despite this, Brown supported the idea, stating that Nevada risked losing an opportunity if it blocked the plans.

In a recording from his 2022 campaign, Brown said, “If we don’t act soon, other states… are assessing whether or not they can essentially steal that opportunity from us.” However, in a statement to The Hill, Brown clarified that he is not actively calling for the reopening of Yucca Mountain but will consider future proposals with the safety of Nevadans as his top priority.

Nuclear waste at center of testy Nevada Senate race (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), running for reelection, quickly seized on Brown’s comments, stating that Nevadans have been clear that they will not allow the state to become a dumping ground for the nation’s nuclear waste. Rosen’s seat is vulnerable this fall, and the Cook Political Report lists it as a toss-up.

The issue of Yucca Mountain has been a contentious one in Nevada politics for years. Former Secretary of State John Kerry added his opposition to the idea to his 2004 presidential campaign platform, and the Obama administration halted work on the repository entirely in 2010.

Former President Trump supported Yucca Mountain funding early in his presidency but backed off the promise in 2020 under pressure from Republicans in the state.

Local environmental organizations and Native American tribes have also long expressed concerns about using Yucca Mountain for waste storage, citing risks to the state’s water resources and the potential for accidents during transportation.

Failure to bring nuclear waste to NV is an ‘incredible loss (Credits: Nevada Current)

Despite this, some public officials in Nye County, where Yucca Mountain is located, have supported the project, stating that decisions should be based on facts and science rather than fear-mongering.

The issue has sparked a new wave of opposition from Nevada lawmakers, with Representative Dina Titus (D-Nev.) stating that the science is not good and that the state should not be a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

Environmental organizations have also reiterated their concerns, with the Nevada Conservation League stating that the state’s water resources need to be protected. The issue will likely continue to be contentious in the lead-up to the election.

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