Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

 As Law360.com (subscription required) reported this week:

The Washington Attorney General's Office called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday not to use congressionally approved funds to impede Yucca Mountain licensing proceedings until the D.C. Circuit rules in litigation over the site's review.

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals agreed with Washington state and seven other petitioners that the law requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to act on a license application to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.  But, as we pointed out in our Aug. 3 news release, the court of appeals refrained from further action pending congressional appropriation decisions:

Although the court put further action on hold while Congress makes upcoming appropriations decisions, two judges acknowledged a point that lawyers working to safely dispose of nuclear waste stored in Washington state and elsewhere have made all along.

“Today’s order confirms that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated the law in dismantling the process for licensing Yucca Mountain,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “While we are disappointed that the NRC was today not ordered to take action, we are pleased that two judges recognized that the NRC has a legal duty to move forward with the licensing process.  We will work with our fellow petitioners to monitor the status of congressional action and determine our next steps.”

Our August 8th letter (PDF) asks for written assurance that the NRC and Department of Energy will not spend taxpayer money on “actions that the Court has clearly determined are illegal.”

The District Court gave the parties until December 14 to file updates on the case.  We’ll keep you posted.

-Dan Sytman-