Texas Sues Energy's Rick Perry over Yucca Mountain

By Siciliano, John | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, March 16, 2017 | Go to article overview

Texas Sues Energy's Rick Perry over Yucca Mountain


Siciliano, John, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday sued energy secretary and two-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry for not moving ahead with the Yucca Mountain waste repository site in Nevada, one day before the White House issued its budget blueprint suggesting the president wants to restore funding for the project.

The lawsuit, filed in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, seeks to force an up-or-down vote on the project to avoid input from Nevada on permit approval for the site.

"The Obama administration ignored congressional requirements, withdrew funding from the Yucca Mountain licensing process, and formed an unlawful Blue Ribbon Commission to identify alternative methods of nuclear waste storage," according to a statement from Paxton's office issued Wednesday.

- What's in the budget: The "skinny budget," so-called because it offers only a glimpse of the full budget due out in May, designates $120 million to "restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and initiate a robust interim storage program."

According to Trump's budget blueprint: "These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government's obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security and reduce future taxpayer burden."

- How does Nevada feel? Nevada's congressional delegation has long opposed the nuclear waste site. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada persuaded former President Barack Obama to cancel the licensing of the repository until a judge overturned the decision in 2012. Since then, however, the program at the Energy Department and Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been on life support, with very little in way of funding.

An aide to the Nevada delegation on Capitol Hill called Trump's $120 million for the project "peanuts" that wouldn't cover the permitting and licensing costs. It's certainly not enough to persuade the court that Paxton's lawsuit is moot. Congress still has to approve the budget.

"I don't think one affects the other directly except for the fact that the GOP is sending a message on all fronts," the aide said. Paxton is a Republican and is also involved in a big multi-state suit opposing the previous administration's climate plan. …

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