Lobbyists won't seek review of Yucca ruling

LAS VEGAS - A nuclear industry lobbying group won't seek Supreme Court review of a crucial radiation protection standard for Yucca Mountain.

The Nuclear Energy Institute decision Monday removes the last legal challenge to a ruling that could require the Energy Department to redesign the Yucca Mountain project to meet a much stricter Environmental Protection Agency radiation standard.

Congress could still push the project forward, by upholding the previous standard or by changing the standard.

Nuclear Energy Institute spokesman Mitch Singer said Monday that no decision had been made whether the Washington, D.C., industry lobbying group would ask Congress to rewrite the law governing a national nuclear dump.

The NEI decision, on the last day an appeal could be sought, came after the Bush administration said it would not ask the Supreme Court to take the case.

A Nevada official called the development an important victory in the state's fight against the federal plan to bury 77,000 tons of the nation's most radioactive waste northwest of Las Vegas.

State Attorney General Brian Sandoval said the Nuclear Energy Institute decision amounted to an acknowledgment that the July ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was "impervious to appeal."

The court threw out a 10,000-year radiation standard, saying the Environmental Protection Agency should have followed a National Academy of Sciences recommendation that the Yucca project limit radiation emissions for up to 300,000 years.

The appeals court has also rejected an institute request for rehearing, along with a request to keep the existing radiation standard in place pending Supreme Court review.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to rework the standard to meet the court's objection.

The Energy Department said last week it won't meet a self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to submit an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the repository .


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