Nevada delegation: Yucca conflicts need investigating |

Nevada delegation: Yucca conflicts need investigating

Staff report

Nevada’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Gregory Friedman, inspector general for the U.S. Department of Energy, urging him to review possible conflicts of interest related to the law firm Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius’s contract with the Department of Energy to perform legal services related to licensing Yucca Mountain as the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Today’s letter outlines, in detail, the fact that in the past the firm has represented clients against the Department of Energy and the fact that recently the firm was registered to lobby on behalf of the Nuclear Energy Institute. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, and Congressmen Jon Porter and Dean Heller are united in their efforts to stop Yucca Mountain from ever holding the nation’s nuclear waste.

“The dump will never be built, plain and simple,” said Reid in a press release today. “This is just one more attempt by the Energy Department to try to push this dying beast through the licensing process. The Energy Department should not be wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on lawyers to defend a project that will never be completed. Instead, we need to work toward a much safer solution of securely storing nuclear waste at the facilities where it is produced.”

“The Department of Energy has no business hiring a law firm that has ties to those who want to store waste at Yucca Mountain for a supposedly impartial role in the licensing process,” said Ensign. “It’s time to start considering other options for nuclear waste, because pouring money into a repository that will never be built is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

“Firms representing the nuclear industry in Yucca Mountain lawsuits should not be hired by taxpayers to also fight in favor of the proposed dump. The Energy Department recognized this potential conflict of interest in the past, but in the rush to open Yucca Mountain, it has now abandoned this position. Clearly, there are red flags here that point to a potential conflict of interest in DOE’s hiring of Morgan Lewis, a firm with a long and active history of working for the nuclear industry. This new contract ” which could cost taxpayers more than $100 million ” deserves immediate review by the Inspector General,” said Berkley.

“The Energy Department’s use of taxpayer money to hire a law firm with ties to the nuclear industry is disgraceful. This is just one more blunder in DOE’s long list of errors for this fatally flawed project,” said Heller.

“The repository has been plagued by too many inconsistencies throughout its existence,” said Porter. “This additional conflict supports the delegation’s collective argument that the project must end now.”

The letter the Congressional Delegation sent to Friedman is attached.