Yucca Mountain, Mining Regulations Discussed By Sandoval, Cabine - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Yucca Mountain, Mining Regulations Discussed By Sandoval, Cabinet Members

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Governor Brian Sandoval spent about 24 hours in the nation's capitol, from Tuesday to Wednesday.  Sandoval says it was not a lot of time, but time well-spent, meeting with several cabinet members.

"For me, it was really a mission to familiarize all these people with Nevada-centric issues and make it clear where we stand on a number of things," Sandoval said.

Sandoval's first meeting was with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, where the two discussed environmental issues regarding the Anaconda Mine, in Yerington. One option to clean up the mine is to declare it as a Superfund site, which he does not want to do.  He says that does not guarantee funding and can slow the process.  Instead, he wants to encourage the owners of the mine to start the clean-up, which would be faster and cheaper. The governor also told Pruitt his concerns about a proposal to increase regulations on mine reclamation, saying Nevada already has the policy in place.

"Our mining companies have literally billions of dollars that are on deposit through bonds to ensure that the environment is protected," Sandoval said. "All this would do is duplicate that, which wouldn't provide for better protection. So, it's very expensive. It could put some of our mines out of business."

Sandoval's meeting with White House staffers revolved around infrastructure funding.  The governor is hoping to secure funding for some of Nevada's projects, including Interstate-11, Project Neon, Apex, and a high-speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California.  In northern Nevada, money could be used for infrastructure at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center and to improve the Spaghetti Bowl.

"It's just outlived its utility," Sandoval said. "This was something that was built in the 70s. I believe we're three or four times the population we were when it was built. It's time."

Sandoval says Nevadans have stepped up to fund infrastructure with fuel indexing, and a Washoe County sales tax increase to build and repair schools.

"Part of the conversation with the federal government was that help states, like Nevada that are willing to help themselves," Sandoval said.

Sandoval was on-hand when President Trump signed an executive order on education but the president could did not have time to meet with him, one-on-one.  A meeting is expected to take place in the near future. Regarding education, Sandoval wants the president to take a "bottom-up" approach, allowing states to make more of their own decisions.

The future of Yucca Mountain was a big topic during Sandoval's Wednesday meeting with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  Trump's proposed budget includes $120 million to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain, which could potentially serve as a storage facility for nuclear waste.  Sandoval made it clear to Perry that the plan will not happen if he has anything to do about it.

"It is a faulty site. It is a fractured site. It is a fractured rock that sits on an earthquake fault above an aquifer. It cannot geologically isolate the waste," Sandoval said. "I think it's a waste of time and I think it's an incredible waste of federal taxpayer money."

Sandoval's meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke included discussions on sage grouse protections, wild horse management, BLM, national monuments and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Act, which allows the purchase of sensitive lands.

He also met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The two talked about internet gaming, sanctuary cities, and legalized marijuana.  Both Sessions and Sandoval oppose legalized recreational pot, but the governor let the AG know that Nevada is moving forward with a plan, now that voters have legalized the drug.  Sandoval's proposed budget includes a 10 percent excise tax on marijuana that could raise $60 million, exclusively for education.

"I told him that we are going to strictly regulate marijuana as much as possible that we can and we're in that process and so I think he listened to that," Sandoval said.

Sandoval says his trip was productive and says the new administration is already working with Nevada, very well.  His meetings with four cabinet members happened within 24 hours and were scheduled with very short notice.

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