Nevada Democrats failed Wednesday night to remove language from the House fiscal 2018 spending bill that would prohibit the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in their state from being closed.
"Killing the project at this point is short-sighted," said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, chairman of the Appropriations Committee's energy panel. Once the nuclear waste facility's license application is finished, Congress will have a chance to decide "on whether to proceed" with the construction of the repository, he added.
The Obama administration attempted to close the facility, but a federal appeals court said the move was illegal. The site is not complete but requires a license application submitted by the Energy Department to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The $789 billion spending bill being debated Wednesday night contains $150 million for licensing the Yucca Mountain facility.
The Nevada delegation contends that the mountain site in Nye County is not safe because it rests on both an earthquake fault and an underground water aquifer that leaks and makes it impossible to store waste for long periods.