Sep 28 2007
The state of Nevada, which has been fighting federal water rights claims at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, won a key legal skirmish in a September decision on the matter by federal District Judge Roger Hunt.
Hunt, in a written decision spanning 24 pages, went so far as to describe federal efforts and arguments as unreasonable and even arrogant.
The water fight has been viewed as a key front in the state’s effort to oppose development of a nuclear repository in the state.
Hunt held that while federal claims are inconclusive, “The state, on the other hand, faced the unauthorized use of its water, a violation of state water law, a violation of an agreement it entered in good faith, a violation of this court’s order authorizing that agreement, and interference with its obligation to its citizens to enforce its laws and preserve its water . . . there has been no act by Congress which pre-empts Nevada’s state water laws. … The only public interest issue is whether state officials can be precluded from exercising their lawfully mandated duties, or whether a federal agency can run roughshod over a state’s rights or interests without specific authority and mandate to do the precise activities it wishes to do.”
The Department of Energy, which has been attempting to develop the Yucca site, has proposed congressional legislation to allow it to obtain water needed for the site.
See also reports in September in the Las Vegas Review Journal
Nevada Senator Harry Reid on the decision: “Judge Hunt’s ruling confirms what many of us have known for a long time: the federal government will do anything it can to try to turn Nevada into the nation’s nuclear dumping ground, even if that means ignoring the law and the will of the people who would be most affected by the dump. Stealing water, misleading Congress, and ignoring court orders are par for the course for the Energy Department. I am pleased that Judge Hunt upheld Nevada’s right to enforce its water laws. The Energy Department needs to come to grips with the fact that the dump will never be built and begin working on a way to store nuclear waste at the sites where it is produced, instead of an outdated plan to ship 77,000 tons of it across the country to Nevada.”
September 4, 2007 Senator Harry Reid