| WASHINGTON, March 16
WASHINGTON, March 16 The White House’s fiscal
2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120
million to restart licensing for the proposed Yucca Mountain
nuclear waste dump in Nevada, a project stalled for years by
lawsuits and local opposition.
The move signals that President Donald Trump may consider
the site as a solution to extending the lives of existing U.S.
nuclear power plants that have been hobbled by a lack of places
to get rid of their spent nuclear fuel.
"These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling
the federal government's obligations to address nuclear waste,
enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden,"
according to a summary of the budget proposal.
Yucca Mountain has been studied by the U.S. government since
the 1970s as a potential repository for the nation's radioactive
waste and billions of dollars have been spent on the project.
But it has never opened for business because of legal
challenges and widespread opposition from local politicians,
environmentalists and Native American groups.
In 2010, then-President Barack Obama withdrew the license to
store waste at Yucca amid opposition from then-Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.
Trump's energy secretary, Rick Perry, a former Texas
governor, told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing that
restarting the Yucca Mountain project could not be ruled out,
but that he would collaborate with states.
"I am very aware that this is an issue this country has been
flummoxed by for 30 years. We have spent billions of dollars on
this issue," Perry told the hearing in January. "I’ll work
closely with you and the members of this committee to find the
answers to this issue."
The White House proposal for the Department of Energy budget
calls for an overall cut of 5.6 percent, which would include the
elimination of some research programs.
(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Peter Cooney)