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Federal Appeals Court allows Yucca licensing dispute to move forward

By ThisIsReno

Nevada News Bureau Staff: A federal appeals court today lifted a stay on cases challenging the U.S. Department of Energy’s authority to withdraw its licensing application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

The lifting of the stay by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, also includes an expedited briefing schedule to consider arguments by the states of Washington, South Carolina and others challenging the Energy Department’s intent to stop the licensing process.

The lifting of the stay comes even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not released the results of its vote on the DOE licensing issue, said Bruce Breslow, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.

The commission has voted on whether DOE can withdraw its license but has not disclosed the results of the vote, Breslow said. If the commission rules the DOE cannot withdraw its license application, then the court cases would be moot, he said.

The commission is named in the federal lawsuits as well and has until Jan. 3 to respond, Breslow said.

Regardless of how the legal dispute over Yucca Mountain plays out, President Obama has proposed no funding for the licensing process, he said. It will be up to Congress to decide whether to fund the licensing effort to move the Yucca Mountain project forward should the DOE be required to proceed with licensing, Breslow said.

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