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Public Statements

Yucca Mountain and Buffett Rule

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. BERKLEY. I'm here to talk about the Buffett bill, but I just cannot allow what Mr. Shimkus has just said to go unresponded to because it's such an important issue for the people of the State of Nevada.

The so-called nuclear act that he discussed that was passed in '82 and amended in '87 is known in Nevada as the ``screw Nevada bill,'' and let me tell you what it is. It's a proposal that would ship 77,000 tons of toxic radioactive nuclear waste across 43 States to be buried in a hole in the Nevada desert, which is 90 miles from the major population center of Las Vegas, where we have groundwater issues, seismic activity, and volcanic activity. The EPA cannot come up with any radiation standards that would protect the people of the State of Nevada or anyone else in this country.

Let me tell you, originally, when they came up with this nonsensical plan, which is purely political, that it has nothing to do with science. They said that we could store the rods, the nuclear waste, in Yucca Mountain with no problem, leave it there. Then we realized that that wouldn't work because of the groundwater. So then we decided that they would put their nuclear waste in canisters. But what do you know, there are no canisters that currently exist that can safely store this stuff. Then they came up with shields that would go around the canisters that don't exist to be put into Yucca Mountain.

Then the last Republican Secretary of Energy talked about an army of robots that would walk down Yucca Mountain and be able to check on the nuclear waste while it's leaking and leaching into the groundwater. It's a ridiculous proposal, and it's time to go to Plan B because Plan A isn't going to happen. Seventy-seven percent of the people of the State of Nevada do not want nuclear waste stored at Yucca Mountain. End of that.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my deep disappointment with yesterday's vote in the United States Senate. Once again, Senate Republicans sided with Wall Street millionaires against the interests of struggling middle class families throughout Nevada. The Buffett rule is simple, and it's common sense.

It means if you are a housekeeper, a nurse, a blackjack dealer, or a waitress, or any other middle class professional, you shouldn't pay higher tax rates than multi-millionaires who own yachts and travel in private jets. It means that if you are a Nevadan living paycheck to paycheck, you shouldn't be carrying the burden for Wall Street hedge fund managers and Big Oil company executives.

The Senators who voted against basic tax fairness yesterday need to spend a little more time prioritizing the needs of hardworking Nevadans. They're struggling. These are the people that are struggling to put food on the table, to fill up their cars with gas, and to pay their mortgage or their rent.

The fact that the wealthiest people in this country pay their taxes at a lower tax rate than their secretaries and their chauffeurs doesn't pass the smell test. It stinks, and that's why I'm proud to announce that I'm a cosponsor of the Buffett rule in the House, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me and let's bring some fundamental tax fairness to the people of the United States of America. Seventy-two percent of the American people agree with me that the Buffett rule should be made into law.


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