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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's choice to be the Energy Department's No. 2 official, even as a Republican senator vowed to block the Trump administration's plans to revive the long-stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
Senators approved Dan Brouillette of Texas, an executive at USAA insurance company, by a 79-17 vote on Thursday.
Brouilette won the endorsement of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June, but his confirmation as deputy secretary was held up by Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, a staunch opponent of the Yucca Mountain project.
Heller, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and other Nevada lawmakers say the project poses significant public safety and environmental threats and is overwhelmingly opposed by Nevada residents.
Heller and Cortez Masto voted against Brouilette's confirmation, along with 14 other Democratic senators and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Brouillette, who has been at USAA since 2006, has lobbied for Ford Motor Co. and was staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He worked at the Energy Department under President George W. Bush.
Heller said in a statement Thursday that he remains concerned "not only with the Department of Energy's disregard for the significant public safety and environmental threats associated with reviving Yucca Mountain, but also its dismissal of a consent-based approach as a viable solution to our country's nuclear waste problem."
He's working with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the White House and his colleagues to ensure that "Yucca Mountain never becomes a reality," Heller said. "Nevada will not serve as our country's nuclear waste dump."