Law trying to ban Holtec project faces imminent court challenge

During the 2023 Legislative Session, Democrats rammed through the extreme S.B. 53 despite bipartisan opposition. 

Sens. Moe Maestas (D-Bernalillo) and Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo), as well as Reps. Ambrose Castellano (D-Ribera), Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Meredith Dixon (D-Bernalillo), Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), and Joseph Sanchez (D-Alcalde), joined all Republicans in opposition to the unconstitutional bill.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana) and Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Santa Fe), aims to preempt the company Holtec International from being able to safely store used nuclear fuel rods in a temporary facility in Eddy and Lea Counties. Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham quickly signed it.

These safe fuel rods, housed in secure casks, would be transported by rail to the facility on train shipments specifically for storage. The project would account for over 350 new jobs. 

The casks are immune to hurricanes, floods, tornados, earthquakes, and even the impact of a plane crash. There would be no adverse effect on wildlife nor on groundwater, no radiological consequences in the event of a fire, and an inconspicuous design. 

The project, which already has gotten a positive environmental impact statement from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is set to be approved within the next few weeks following the statement’s positive recommendation.

Despite the safe and secure record of nuclear production and storage from Holtec International, Democrats weaponized anti-nuclear propaganda during the committee process and on the House and Senate floors to claim the safe facility would turn New Mexico into a dumping ground — despite the facility not being permanent. The spent fuel would be stored at the Holtec site “until the Federal Government provides a repository for permanent storage or other permanent disposition as required by law,” according to Holtec. 

New Mexico is ideal for such a facility due to its “typography, arid climate, [the] sparse population at the site’s location, and proximity to transportation infrastructure,” Holtec wrote.

Now, Holtec is signaling a legal challenge against the unconstitutional. Holtec spokesman Patrick O’Brien wrote, “Passing a bill that is pre-empted by federal law and will be adjudicated accordingly in the courts is a counterproductive action that inhibits the state’s growth in the area of clean energy,” adding, “The project is safe, secure and does not impact the environment negatively and does not interfere with oil and gas production.”

Even former Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, wrote that the state has no jurisdiction to ban nuclear fuel storage in New Mexico.

He wrote in 2018, referencing case law, “Taken together, both Bullcreek and Nielson clearly establish two principles: first, that the NRC has the statutory authority to license and regulate consolidated interim nuclear waste storage facilities, and secondly, that the comprehensiveness of that federal regulatory scheme preempts virtually any state involvement.” 

Balderas further wrote in the opinion, “While there are a large number of factors that are considered by the NRC in evaluating a license application, state approval is not among them.” 

Even the Joe Biden administration has recognized the need for nuclear fuel, writing that it “made a commitment to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the energy industry by 2035. Nuclear energy is a part of that solution.” 

Despite all sides coming together in support of nuclear energy being a viable solution to our nation’s energy needs, Democrats continue to harp on decades-old fear tactics to keep investment, namely the multi-billion-dollar Holtec project, from investing in New Mexico’s future. However, the court challenge to the unconstitutional law is imminent.

Photo rendering of the proposed Holtec consolidated interim storage facility courtesy of Holtec International.


14 thoughts on “Law trying to ban Holtec project faces imminent court challenge”

  1. The fact that people actually voted for this ban speaks volumes about just how ignorant they are….and then MLG signs it. Virtue signally at its worst.

  2. If it’s found Unconstitutional then everyone who voted for it and MLG should all be arrested and charged with treason, removed from office and put in prison. Any and ALL legislators that propose Unconstitutional Bill need to be arrested and jailed immediatly.

    1. And bring extra rope ! Sunday hangings were a thing in this state after church services. We used to have SWIFT JUSTICE
      Let the trials begin.

      Could we separate those up north from those of us in the south?
      Split this state up.
      Let’s say from Abq Northward= creating The new state of South Colorado. Let the liberals be together up there while we claim our lives down here

      The rest of us will be the ranching farming areas southward a new Capital. Tbd.
      Just my nickels worth
      Democrat run state? Sure is .

      Get your patriot friends to move here for a true New Mexico.

      Oh btw
      My store is now open for sending a true message see my website below
      Large coffee mugs and shirts we are on Truth social too
      Toysparty.orgNewMexico is found at
      Now git on over there

    2. You are absolutely right Byron. everything we need to hold our public servants accountable is in our founding documents.
      There is a very important series to educate the people on our original constitution of 1787 amended in 1791 to include the bill of rights. It is at qfs 1776 dot com.

  3. Really? “used nuclear fuel rods in a temporary facility” and “safe fuel rods, housed in secure casks” is a joke. This storage will not be temporary and is not “safe”. The so called “secure casks” might last a few decades, perhaps even 100 years but they will begin to deteriorate (existing casks show signs of deterioration after just a decade). We do not have the technology to store this very radioactive material for long. Once here it will not leave. No other state will take it. The urban areas are looking for a place to dump their nuclear reactor trash. Trash that the Feds are required by law to dispose of. Nevada was selected and billions spent, but politics killed it. Now the plan is to dump the waste (hot for 25,000 years) in New Mexico because the rural yahoos need jobs.

  4. “Now the plan is to dump the waste (hot for 25,000 years) in New Mexico because the rural yahoos need jobs.”

    Rural yahoos? Walt, you are no doubt an obnoxious jerk.

    1. I am a rural yahoo. I helped lead the fight to stop the nuclear borehole in rural New Mexico some years ago. Public documents from DOE clearly state that rural, low income areas are a target for their nuclear waste projects. They get a “foot in the door” with $$$ and jobs while down playing risks. Then expand. Sad. If this storage is so safe why not leave the spent fuel at the reactor sites (near high population areas)? You would then reduce the risk from transportation.

  5. “Let’s strip any and all forms of income available to New Mexico” say those who depend on tax dollars for their happy ass to sit in the roundhouse.. Very two-sided.. Prime example is Christine Chandler -she made a living at Los Alamos National Labs and now is pushing this crap?… Keep this in mind as they make promises whilst sweet talking you for your vote..

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