On January 10, energy secretary Spencer Abraham informed Gov Kenny Guinn that he would recommend that president certify the site as suitable for a permanent repository. On February 15, Abraham said in a letter to the president: "I have considered whether sound science supports the determination that the Yucca Mountain site is scientifically and technically suitable for the development of a repository. I am convinced that it does."
Almost immediately after Abraham's recommendation, Bush gave his approval, saying that the issue would now go to Congress, which would have the chance to consider any final objections by the state of Nevada, which opposes the scheme.
A statement issued by the White House said: "In the course of making his decision, the president listened to the governor, the state's senators, and representatives of the people of Nevada and gave careful consideration to their views." It concluded: "Since the Congress passed a law requiring a repository in 1982, this has been a serious issue for the American people. The president recognises that the law now gives Nevada the opportunity to disapprove the recommendation and, if they do, then the Congress will have an opportunity to act. After two decades, the time has come to resolve this issue once and for all."
Governor Kenny Guinn, a Republican, responded by saying he would fight the decision. "I was hopeful that president Bush would keep his promise to Nevada not to push the project forward absent a sound scientific basis. The president has let that opportunity go," he said, adding: "Nevada will now pursue every means available to ensure that the laws of science and the nation ultimately prevail.
"I have...60 days in which to veto the recommendation. I will do so. The House and Senate leaders will then have 90 days to decide whether to override the veto by majority votes of each chamber. If the 90 days of consecutive session pass, then the veto stands.
"Nevada, did not pick this fight, but we are determined to win it."