County Commission chair Kevin Phillips attended the Energy Communities Alliance in Washington D.C. in mid-February and reported on his trip at the Commission meeting Feb. 17.

He said there were representatives from all over the United States and the issues of disposal and storage were discussed.

He said the facility at Carlsbad, New Mexico has been closed, and will remain closed for about another year. “It appears maintenance at the site was not done sufficiently on some of the fan exhaust systems and caused some problems.”

With a change in the makeup of Congress after the last elections, Phillips there is a lot of movement on nuclear waste storage issues. “Depending on where you are from, to move Yucca Mountain forward, or not. We were reminded by everybody that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and the uncompleted Environmental Impact Statement does indeed recommend Yucca for the project and the rail transportation system. The Caliente route is the route that is given in the Environmental Impact Statement and it still needs to be finished. So, it’s alive and well.”

He said a new group, out of Texas, has come forward with a proposal to do their own private facility in west Texas, and is being looked at.

Phillips said he made visits to the offices of all of the Nevada Congressional representatives, including Sens. Reid and Heller.

“They all want to be accommodating,” he said. “We pushed forward the amendments to the Lincoln County Land Act. Congress is going to have to restart the process, and everyone assured us. Dean Heller is taking the lead in the Senate, and Cresent Hardy in the House.” Phillips noted Sen. Reid’s office said they wanted “to make a couple of tweaks to the existing language to accommodate some needed correction for White Pine County, in our land act which would fix for things for them.”

Phillips said he didn’t mind that happening, “as long as it didn’t slow down or mess up our process. They, of course, said they would move nothing forward without our knowledge, but that isn’t totally true all the time.”

Phillips said he also learned that many of the delays in Congress in dealing with the excess horse population on public land in many of the western states was often the result of certain ‘riders’, tacked on to the end of appropriations funding bills by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana.

However, Landrieu lost her seat in December in a runoff election with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.

“So, if there are no riders on the financial bill prohibiting the use of BLM monies to follow the laws of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Act,” said Phillips, “then maybe we’ll have a breakthrough and do what is necessary to decrease the numbers that are out of whack.”