Nevada asks federal judge to let it refuse water to Yucca
LAS VEGAS — Nevada has asked a federal judge to let it refuse the federal government’s request to pump 140 million gallons of water per year for a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.
A 19-page brief filed with U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas argues that the legality of selecting the mountain in the arid desert 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas has not been determined.
Hunt did not issue an immediate ruling.
The water rights case is one of six federal lawsuits the state has pending against the nuclear dump project, which President Bush and Congress approved last year.
The other cases, including a constitutional challenge filed last week, are before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The state document filed Friday asks Hunt to delay ruling on the water issue until challenges focusing on science, safety standards and siting guidelines are resolved. Oral arguments are currently scheduled for those cases in September.
The brief came in response to an Energy Department request that the judge rule in the government’s favor.
Last month, Hunt said the federal government can use water for toilets and showers at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump site, but not to begin building the repository. Justice Department attorneys had claimed the site’s drinking water supply was running low.