LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada lawmakers approved funds Wednesday for a new phase in the state's 25-year fight to prevent the federal government from burying the nation's nuclear waste beneath an ancient volcanic ridge about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
The legislative Interim Finance Committee allocated almost $1.4 million to kick-start legal and technical work ahead of expected Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings on the proposed Yucca Mountain repository.
"Approval of this request will send a message to the pro-Yucca forces that Nevada is not backing down," Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects chief Robert Halstead told the panel, which included several state senators and assembly members representing nine rural Nevada counties that favor opening the repository.
Not everyone supported such a blunt message.
Assemblyman James Oscarson, R-Pahrump, said he wanted to make it clear his vote was to fund a research into safety concerns about the dump. Oscarson represents Nye County, a vast rural area where the repository would be located and a party in a lawsuit that led an appellate court to rule that federal regulators have to make a decision whether the Yucca Mountain project lives or dies.
Halstead and Marta Adams, a chief deputy state attorney general, told the panel that the state needs to prepare in coming weeks to respond quickly to the publication beginning in November of a five-volume repository safety evaluation report.
A three-judge panel of Atomic Safety and Licensing Board judges could begin hearings early next year, Halstead said.
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