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
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.
What is Yucca Mountain?
Yucca Mountain is the Department of Energy’s
proposed national geologic repository for spent
nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants and
high-level radioactive waste from national defense
sources. It is located approximately 90 miles
northwest of Las Vegas.
Yucca Mountain was scheduled to open in 1998. Now,
using the most optimistic projections, it would not
open until 2020, more than two decades behind
Nevada’s leaders and legislators, as well as
representatives from the scientific community, have
expressed concerns about the project for many years.
The Department of Energy is currently preparing to
submit its license application by June 30, 2008.
The Moapa Band of Paiutes urges the Department of
Energy to pursue the efficacy of on-site storage,
rather than the pursuit of Yucca Mountain as a
Why we oppose Yucca Mountain:
First, Yucca Mountain is the home of the Southern
Paiute’s ancestral lands. We are stewards of the
Earth, and believe contamination by nuclear waste is
not in the best interest of the land.
Additionally, the development of Yucca Mountain as a
high-level nuclear waste repository could require
the transportation of radioactive waste through or
near the Moapa Paiute Reservation. Existing rail
lines, and Interstate highway 15 run through the
Indian Perspectives on Yucca Mountain Video
The establishment of a high-level nuclear waste
repository in Nevada would diminish the safety of
the members of the Moapa Paiutes.
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