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Budget guidelines from the Trump Administration includes some $120 million to re-start the licensing process to open Yucca Mountain.
Yucca Mountain is a high-level nuclear waste repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It lies in Nye County and has been mothballed for decades, due in large part to the efforts of former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.
Within the $120 million proposal is $3.6 million for Nye County to become the "host community" for Yucca Mountain.
In an open letter this week, Dan Schinhofen, vice chairman of the Nye County Commission, said that money would be used for the "county's seniors, housing assistance for veterans and to help provide medical services for central Nevada."
Schinhofen also challenged those who oppose Yucca Mountain, which has included the gaming industry and residents of the largest urban population in Nevada, Clark County.
"I hope our opponents can articulate why they oppose funding to help the elderly, veterans and everyone that needs medical assistance," he wrote. "I hope they can explain why they are afraid of hearing the science ..."
Schinhofen told KNPR's State of Nevada that he was in his last term as a commissioner and that he was tired of holding back after many years.
He wants the state to allow the licensing process to go forward and prove why it feels that the waste is dangerous.
“If they can prove it is not safe, we don’t want it either,” Schinhofen said.
But he doesn't think the science is there to show the waste is not safe. He also doesn't believe that where and how it will be stored is not safe. The commissoner wants the state to step back and allow the hearings for the licensing of the site to move forward so everyone will know for sure and he says that is the law.
“Just sticking your fingers in your ears and saying 'no' is not an answer and it’s not following the law,” he said.
Schinhofen says there is already material being stored in Nye County that is "as hot" as what would be stored at Yucca Mountain.
Opponents of the plan to store high-level, nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain are concerned about the safety of the site and how it will be transported there. They are also worried about the impact it will have on Las Vegas' tourism economy.
They are also skeptical about any economic benefit the waste site will have. Schinhofen is not skeptical. He believes it will be a major boost both in jobs and in the money from the government for compensation.
“Yucca Mountain would help us with jobs, which would help us with tax revenue, which would help us to provide more of those services,” he said.
Dan Schinhofen, vice chairman, Nye County Commission
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