Yucca funding probably not in time to save state money | NevadaAppeal.com

Yucca funding probably not in time to save state money

The appropriations legislation approved by Congress on Wednesday includes the $5 million the state needs to continue its fight to block the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

But Nuclear Projects Agency director Bob Loux said the money probably won’t get here in time to cancel a $1.5 million emergency state appropriation that will be used to cover costs of preparing for that fight until the federal money arrives.

That money from the state’s contingency fund was approved by the Board of Examiners a week ago. It is on the Interim Finance Committee agenda for final approval in January. Loux told BOE the money was needed to pay the legal team, scientists and engineers preparing the state’s case against licensing Yucca Mountain because the appropriations act was stalled in Congress.

Unfortunately, he said, the state wouldn’t be able to recoup that funding from the federal dollars once they finally arrive.

“The only real problem is it takes the Department of Energy four months to get the money out,” Loux said.

He said he has asked the legal team and others working on the state’s case to hold off demanding payment as long as they can, and they have agreed.

“Last year, they floated us for almost three months while we waited for the money,” he said. “The problem isn’t as much the lawyers as the scientists and engineers, who may run out of money quicker.”

He said it will be harder for them to do that this year because, with the DOE license application coming, “we’re asking a lot more of them.”

“If DOE files this application in June, we’ve got to have all our guys up and ready,” he said.

Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said he hopes those consultants and lawyers can hang on, given the state’s revenue shortfall. He said every dollar the state can save helps reduce budget cuts.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.