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U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan backs Trump's $116M request for Yucca Mountain revival

Jeff Duncan, ARC, Yucca Mountain

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., pictured here speaking to the Aiken Republican Club last year. Duncan is a forthright fan of Yucca Mountain.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, is pleased President Donald Trump included money for an ever-controversial nuclear program in his latest budget request.

"It is great news that President Trump included funding for Yucca Mountain in his proposed budget," Duncan said March 13 in response to questions posed by the Aiken Standard.

Trump's fiscal year 2020 request includes a total $31.7 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy, a $1.1 billion increase compared to his last ask. The budget blueprint more specifically includes $116 million for what is effectively a Yucca Mountain restart and a related interim nuclear storage program.

"The budget also demonstrates the administration's commitment to nuclear waste management by supporting the implementation of a robust interim storage program and restarting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing proceeding for the Yucca Mountain geologic repository," reads the 100-plus page visionary budget, which was released earlier this week.

Trump's FY 2019 budget request included $120 million for Yucca Mountain and the interim storage program.

Congress in the 1980s first identified Yucca Mountain, located in a remote section of Nevada, to become a sprawling nuclear storehouse. Congress then gave the project a further go-ahead in 2002.

But Yucca Mountain prospects – and funding, perhaps most importantly – soured and spoiled during President Barack Obama's time in office. At the time, a federal spending watchdog said the project was terminated for political reasons.

Duncan and a contingent of congressmen, including then-U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, toured Yucca Mountain in July 2018. After the trip, Duncan, on a livestreamed conference call, said Yucca Mountain would make a great home for prepared and processed Savannah River Site nuclear waste.

"Get it off the shores of Lake Keowee," Duncan said at the time, "Let's get it away from the Savannah River Site."

On March 13, Duncan followed that same train of thought: "Yucca Mountain is the ideal site for long-term nuclear waste storage, and it's time to restart the program so we can move nuclear waste out of South Carolina and into long-term storage that was promised by the federal government to the American people."

Duncan represents South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District; he's a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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