In a tweet on his official profile, president Trump said his administration is committed to “exploring innovative approaches” since Congress and previous administrations have been failing to “find lasting solutions.”
“Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain and my Administration will respect you,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Congress and previous Administrations have long failed to find lasting solutions – my Administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches – I’m confident we can get it done!”
Democratic Nevada senator Catherine Cortez-Masto responded in a tweet that she would be “looking forward” to working with the president on “this critical issue for Nevada” by ensuring federal budget does not allow funding for restarting the project.
Mr Trump had previously requested federal funds to build the Yucca Mountain repository, despite objections from Nevada leaders.
A senior administration was quoted in media reports as saying that the president would not seek funds for Yucca Mountain in his 2021 budget request, which is expected on Monday.
The White House sought $120m in Mr Trump’s first budget request to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain, which Congress designated in 1987 to be the nation’s sole site for a repository.
The US Department of Energy has focused on developing a repository at Yucca Mountain since 1987, spending $10bn and submitting a licence application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008.
In 2010, under the Obama administration, the DOE declared Yucca Mountain “unworkable” and the project was stopped.
In 2017, President Trump signaled renewed support for Yucca Mountain with the White House pledging $120m of funding in its 2018 federal budget proposal to restart licensing procedures for the site, but it did not receive Congressional approval.
In 2018, the US House or Representatives passed amendments to federal nuclear waste legislation, which would require the NRC to decide within 30 months on the licensing of Yucca Mountain and authorise land transfers related to the project, while in the meantime also authorising an interim storage programme until the final repository would be operational.