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Air Force chief objects to Yucca Mountain nuclear routes via Las Vegas Review Journal

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson sees a need to protect the space frontier and envisions bolstering the ranks of drone warfare all while preserving the vast Southern Nevada range that shrinks as fighter jets zip faster across it.

What she doesn’t see in her crystal ball is a nuclear-waste train rolling across the 2.9-million-acre Nevada Test and Training Range to reach the Department of Energy’s planned repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

“If Yucca Mountain becomes a storage area it needs to operate without impacting the ability of the country to defend itself,” Wilson said Friday in an exclusive interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There is no route across the range that would not impact testing and training.”


Wilson, a 56-year-old U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, Rhodes scholar and former Republican Congress member from New Mexico, spoke on a wide range of topics from Yucca Mountain to performance of new Block-5 remotely piloted Reapers at Creech Air Force Base to issues with F-35 joint strike fighter jets to her call for a larger cadre of airmen devoted to protection and use of space and cyberspace.

She oversees 660,000 active-duty, National Guard and reserve airmen and a budget of $132 billion.

In June, she wrote that “the Air Force and the nation are at a critical crossroads” when it comes to “getting space operations right.”

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