Appeals Court Delays Yucca Mountain Decision

In a decision Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rule on a license application for the Yucca Mountain waste repository, instead delaying the case for four months.

The 2-1 ruling was the latest in two years of litigation, government agency decisions and moves by members of Congress in response to the Obama administration's decision to effectively shut down the project for long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel in Nevada. In June, the same court ruled in a different case that the NRC must reevaluate the adequacy of its environmental review of a rule change that extended by 30 years the time spent fuel can be stored at nuclear plants – the only current storage alternative to the repository.

In the most recent ruling, the Nuclear Energy Institute noted, the court granted the NRC the extension until after Congress finishes its 2013 appropriations. The agency had claimed it did not have the money to complete the license review and issue a decision on the project.

In a written statement, NEI general counsel Ellen Ginsberg said: “The nuclear energy industry is disappointed that the Court of Appeals did not take the opportunity to directly address the unambiguous statutory obligation imposed on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. However, it is noteworthy that both the concurrence by Judge Kavanaugh and the dissent by Judge Randolph agree that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a clear statutory obligation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Although he supported holding the case in abeyance, Judge Kavanaugh rejected the NRC’s bases for its action and opined the NRC ‘appears to have no legal authority to defy the law.'"

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  • Anonymous

    How many 10's of BILLIONS of dollars does the US Taxpayer have invested in the Yucca Moutain Project ?? Now Senator Reid (D.) of Nevada wants to shut it down after Nevada reaped years of employment for his Navada voters. Makes no sense to me but I am not an old time elected US Senate ***.