The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to approve storage of nuclear waste from around the nation at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, ending, for the moment, one of the most contentious environmental battles of recent decades. The 60-to-39 vote was a blow for environmentalists and Nevadans, who dubbed the plan the “Screw Nevada Bill” when it was preliminarily approved by Congress 15 years ago. The Energy Department must now seek permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build facilities to store as much as 70,000 metric tons of highly radioactive waste in desert tunnels 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a process that could take up to five years. Work on Yucca Mountain is expected to be further delayed by challenges in the courts, the last refuge of opponents to the plan. One of the most outspoken foes, Nevada Sen. John Ensign (R), who met individually with the great majority of his party’s 49 senators to try to win them over to his side, said of the vote, “It feels like somebody has punched me about 100 times in the gut.”