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August 29, 2014

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Democrats say if you want to name a mountain after Reagan, make it Yucca

Image

AP

This Dec. 17, 1981, file photo shows President Ronald Reagan pointing to a reporter for the next question during his news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington.

Yucca Mountain

The U.S. Energy Department plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, an extinct volcano about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
Joe Heck

Joe Heck

The House Natural Resources Committee approved a bill today to name a Southern Nevada mountain peak after Ronald Reagan, but not before some Democratic lawmakers did a fair amount of “dumping” on the country’s 40th president.

“I think if we were going to name something after the president, it oughtta be something...the president supported that was extraordinarily significant to the state of Nevada — and that is Yucca Mountain,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the committee.

“I think the Ronald Reagan Mountain, which would look over the Ronald Reagan Nuclear Waste Repository, would be a much more appropriate commemoration of his service,” DeFazio said.

Reagan signed into law the bill that designated Yucca Mountain as the country’s only long-term nuclear waste dump. Nevada’s congressional representatives have been fighting against implementation of the law ever since.

DeFazio and other Democrats seized upon Yucca Mountain as their best counter to an effort, led by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., to name a 4,000-foot peak on Frenchman Mountain in honor of Reagan.

Their efforts, however, didn’t elicit more than a few chuckles from Republicans supporting Heck’s bill.

“I have to give [DeFazio] credit for being very creative on this, but I have to remind him that President Reagan simply signed the [Yucca] bill,” said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. “Yucca Mountain was created by Congress.”

Citizens Outreach, a conservative advocacy group, proposed naming the peak on Frenchman Mountain after Reagan in 2010 and successfully petitioned the Nevada Board of Geographic Names to approve the change last year.

But giving the Gipper his own mountain has never sat well with Democrats, inside or outside Nevada.

Last fall, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., introduced legislation to name the mountain after Maude Frazier, Nevada’s first female lieutenant governor — and a Democrat.

A rather sarcastic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last month that “we probably haven’t named enough stuff for Reagan.”

DeFazio noted that it would be the 87th landmark or major federal facility named after Reagan.

Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said, “We may want to consider going big with this Reagan-naming enthusiasm and just naming the planet [after him]...We’re sort of piecemealing our way with mountains and other things.”

If the planet was named after Reagan, it could be the breakthrough Democrats have been looking for to convince Republicans to act on climate change, he said.

Go for it, Hastings said. “If the gentleman would introduce legislation, I could guarantee we’d have a hearing on that,” he said.

The committee passed the Mt. Reagan legislation by voice vote, setting it up for consideration by the full House.

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