"The State of Nevada faces almost a billion dollar budget shortfall," reports Edward Lawrence. "The Nuclear Energy Institute says there is a solution ... but it comes with one very large string attached" -- that the state end opposition to the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. "In exchange for dropping any objection to shipping the waste here, [NEI's Paul] Seidler says Nevada can get access to the nuclear waste fund." That fund, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy, has a balance of "more than $20 billion." An Energy Department spokesperson agreed that "even though a benefit package clause in the original Nuclear Waste Act expired, nothing prevents the state from starting a negotiation that could be worth $1 billion a year." But Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons said he would "not sell away the safety of the state to the Yucca Mountain proponents." In related news, the law firm "awarded a four-year $47.7 million contract to shepherd the licensing for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, has acknowledged conflicts of interest," reports ABC. The firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, is "seeking damage payments from the government" for its utility clients, on nuclear waste issues, and has also lobbied for NEI.
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