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Nuclear Waste at Yucca Mountain: Over My Dead Body

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I have been in Congress now for 12 years. The very first speech I made on the floor of the House was why nuclear waste should not be stored at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. I cannot believe 12 years from when I first made that speech, I am back in the well of the House talking about why Nevada should not be the site for the nuclear repository for this country.

President Obama defunded the Yucca Mountain project, and let me tell you why he took this very bold step: because 77 percent of the people of the State of Nevada do not want nuclear waste stored at Yucca Mountain. There are groundwater issues, seismic activity, volcanic activity, and it is 90 miles from the major population center of Las Vegas.

It is dangerous. There are no current EPA standards. And why is that? No current EPA radiation standards, because there is no way to set radiation standards for material that has a radioactive half shelf life of 300,000 years. But the Republican budget that has just been submitted resurrects Yucca Mountain and starts the process of dumping another $100 billion into a hole in the Nevada desert where there will never, ever be any nuclear waste stored.

At the same time that the majority is calling for spending more money to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, they are also pushing for devastating cuts that will end the loan guarantees for a new solar power plant in the State of Nevada near the community of Tonopah. The result will be the loss of 600 jobs at a time when the Silver State has double-digit unemployment. Almost 15 percent of the people who live in Nevada have no job, and they are going to take away 600 more by this very foolish act. Construction of this new solar plant will not only provide hundreds of paychecks to Nevada workers, it will also supply enough clean and renewable energy to power 75,000 homes in the State of Nevada. Without these loan guarantees that are now on the Republican chopping block, this solar project's bright future is looking mighty, mighty dim.

Tapping renewable energy sources, like the wind and solar and geothermal, all in great abundance in the State of Nevada, is where the future of this Nation and certainly Nevada's energy needs are.

Do we want to continue to rely on the Saudis and the Venezuelans and the Libyans for our energy needs to be met? I don't think so. Renewable is the way to go.

This Nation and Nevada's future is in clean energy, not in nuclear waste stored at Yucca Mountain, yet the Republicans want to cut funding for solar and other renewable resources that can be harnessed to provide clean energy and jobs for our local workers. And they are pushing these cuts while calling for $100 billion to be dumped down a hole in the middle of the Nevada desert, as I said, 90 miles from a major population center.

I reject these efforts to restore the funding to Yucca Mountain. It is more wasteful spending at a time when they are talking about fixing the deficit. This is no way to do it by adding an extra $100 billion. And I will make this pledge to you now: There will be no nuclear waste shipped to Yucca Mountain because it will be shipped over my dead body. I will lay across those railroad tracks and stop that train from depositing nuclear waste in my great State.

I oppose the cuts as much as I oppose the funding of Yucca Mountain. I oppose the cuts in the solar energy loan guarantee program that will cut 600 jobs from the State of Nevada and prevent us from moving forward for a bright, renewable energy future.

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