Appeals court rules on Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

Court Says Decision Must Be Made on the Fate Nevada's Controversial Nuclear Dump

Court Says Decision Must Be Made on the Fate Nevada's Controversial Nuclear Dump

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Aug. 13 2013 10:33 PM

What to Do About Yucca Mountain?

YUCCA MOUNTAIN, UNITED STATES: The entrance to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository located in Nye County, Nevada, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Photo by MAXIM KNIAZKOV/AFP/Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the Obama administration must make a decision on whether to continue with a decades-old plan to build a nuclear waste dump some 100 miles outside of Las Vegas.

The Yucca Mountain project has been a controversial one ever since Congress selected it as a disposal site in the 1980s. Since that time, the government has spent almost $15 billion trying to determine its suitability for disposing nuclear waste, according to Reuters.

Under the Obama administration, however, funding has dwindled, and, in 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the licensing process for nuclear waste disposal, ended its deliberation on whether to issue a permit for Yucca Mountain.

The Nevada site has also faced growing political hurdles, according to Reuters.

The Obama administration, which picks the Senate-confirmed members of the nuclear commission, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, whose home state is Nevada, are among those eager to scuttle the Yucca project. They would be in a position to deny any future funds for the project.