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House panel backs Nevada nuclear waste disposal site

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

WASHINGTON -- A House panel voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to override Nevada's objections to building a nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain in the state's desert.

The 24-2 vote was the first congressional action on President Bush's decision in February to approve the Yucca Mountain site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

It signaled that the House was ready to move swiftly to support the president's decision despite Nevada's strong opposition.

The proposal calls for the Yucca Mountain facility, which has yet to get regulatory approval, to accept 77,000 tons of waste over 24 years, beginning in 2010.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the Energy and Commerce energy subcommittee, said it would be a mistake to "not let the process go forward." A final decision on the disposal site will be made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The full committee is expected to approve the pro-Yucca resolution later this week and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said Tuesday he expects a floor vote next week. The Senate has yet to take up the resolution.

Nevada lawmakers have acknowledged they have little chance to stop the proposed site in the Republican-controlled House and have focused their efforts on the Senate where the Democratic leadership opposes Bush's selection of Yucca Mountain.

Bipartisan support

The resolution to override Nevada's rejection of the site gained broad bipartisan support in Barton's subcommittee. Only two Democrats -- Reps. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Bill Luther of Minnesota -- voted against it.


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