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Karoun Demirjian, Washington Correspondent, Las Vegas Sun
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Republicans are talking about re-opening Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository, says Las Vegas Sun Washington correspondent, Karoun Demirjian. Of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. is the main obstacle to the high-level nuclear waste repository and taking him down makes the prospect even more appealing.
The budget proposal from House Republicans includes funding to re-open and continue the licensing process for Yucca Mountain. The project became moribund when the Obama Administration cut funding and Reid was able to ensure that the project withered. Sometimes he had to use the filibuster to ensure that happened because some Democrats from states like Illinois where there are significant amounts of high-level nuclear waste, would like to see the project continue to completion. Others are willing, said Demirjian, to allow the Department of Energy to use the money already appropriated for Yucca Mountain.
The issue has also become mixed up with the question of the filibuster in the Senate. Since becoming leader, Reid has become increasingly frustrated with Republicans using the filibuster to obstruct Democrats’ agenda. And he’s again talking about changing the rules so that any measure could pass with a bare majority – 51 votes.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. has already expressed misgivings about the end of the filibuster because it would weaken the role of small states like Nevada.
Other Republicans are citing Heller’s concerns to push back against the majority leader. As Sen. Lamar Alexander recently said on the Senate floor: “A vote to end the filibuster is a vote to complete Yucca Mountain. If we have 51 votes, we can order the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue a license, we can order the Department of Energy to build it and we can fund it.”
But said Demirjian, re-opening Yucca Mountain would probably come third to two other Republican priorities: repealing Obamacare and funding school vouchers.