Yucca Mountain Statement

February 15, 2002

Statement by the Press Secretary:

The President notified Congress today that he considers Yucca Mountain qualified for a construction permit application, taking the upcoming steps required for approving the site as a nuclear materials repository.

The President’s decision to recommend Yucca Mountain is based on sound science. It follows decades of scientific study and a determination by the Secretary of Energy that the site can be safely used to store these materials. During his decision, the President listened to the Governor, the State’s Senators, and the representatives of the people of Nevada and carefully considered their views.

He also consulted extensively with his science and environmental advisers to ensure they concurred with the Secretary’s recommendation’s science, safety, and ecological conclusions. Finding a safe and central repository is not only mandated by law but also in America’s national security and homeland security interests. Forty percent of our Navy’s fleet depends on nuclear power.

Nuclear materials are stored in 131 above-ground facilities in 39 states, and 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of these sites. One leading site provides more protection for this material than the existing 131 sites. One out of every five times someone turns on a light switch, it’s because nuclear power produces 20 percent of our Nation’s electricity. Given the environmental benefits of nuclear power, a safe repository for atomic materials will help us pursue our energy and ecological security goals.

Since Congress passed a law requiring a repository in 1982, this has been a severe issue for the American people. The President recognizes that the law now allows Nevada to disapprove the recommendation, and if they do, then Congress will have a chance to act. After two decades, the time has come to resolve this issue once and for all.