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Federal appeals court denies Nevada challenge to Yucca Mountain waste site

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] declined Tuesday to review a US Department of Energy (DOE) [official website] proposal to move nuclear waste to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository [DOE materials] by rail, finding that some claims by the State of Nevada lacked merit while others were unripe. Nevada sued in the DC Circuit to challenge the DOE's Record of Decision (ROD) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) [text] governing the transportation of waste to Yucca Mountain, alleging that both violated the National Environmental Policy Act [text].

A unanimous three-judge panel denied Nevada's petition [opinion, PDF], with Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson [official profile] writing that

[t]he DOE's discussion of the interim transportation plan in the ROD does not represent its final determination regarding the plan. As outlined in the ROD, the plan might be implemented at some future time but the DOE's language is replete with conditional phrases. ... Only when the DOE's plan has sufficiently "crystallized" and the FEIS is used to support a concrete decision will Nevada's challenge to the DOE's failure to prepare an SEIS [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] be ripe.
The petition is one of at least eight legal challenges to the Yucca Mountain repository [JURIST report], which is not scheduled to open until 2017 [AP report]. AP has more.

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