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Yucca Mountain

On February 1, 2010, the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1, 2010, was released. The new budget could eliminate funding related to the licensing proceeding for Yucca Mountain. At the same time, funds were provided to develop a new nuclear waste management strategy, as well as credit subsidies for renewable energy and energy-efficient projects. 

Then, on March 3, the Department of Energy officially withdrew its pending license application for a permanent geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain “with prejudice,” which means that DOE could not refile its application for a repository at Yucca Mountain at some future time. 

At President Obama’s direction, Energy Secretary Steven Chu established the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. It is expected to make recommendations for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including storage, processing and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. 

The Native Community Action Council, representing the Shoshone and Paiute communities, were granted admission as a party to the legal processes of licensing. NCAC presented three objections to the licensing of the facility. First, NCAC demonstrated the lands at Yucca Mountain remain Indian lands. Judges agreed this is a viable legal claim on which to submit a contention. They accepted our argument that the Shoshone claim to the lands is a “cloud” on the United States assertion of title. However, they did not accept the argument that this land is reserved by the Treaty of Ruby Valley. 

Additionally, the NRC accepted our right to argue that environmental review of the proposed facility failed to adequately account for the damage that could be caused to cultural practices of Shoshone and Paiute people.

The NCAC will remain actively involved in the licensing proceeding and monitor all Yucca Mountain-related activities and new developments. 

Indian Perspectives on Yucca Mountain (Video)

Resources to learn more about Yucca Mountain:

Clark County Nuclear Waste Program 

State of Nevada Nuclear Waste Project 

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management 

Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

Environmental Protection Agency 

Yucca Mountain Project

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