By Brendan Riley
A legislative panel has approved a third of the money requested by a state agency that monitors federal efforts to build a high-level nuclear waste dump in Nevada.
The lawmakers' Interim Finance Committee voted Thursday to approve $375,000 for the Nevada Nuclear Projects Office -- a move that averts a threatened July shutdown and should keep the agency going until September.
Sen. Bill Raggio, IFC chairman, said the panel can take another look in the fall at the projects office.
The funding decision, while less than the $1.2 million sought, was welcomed by Gov. Bob Miller as "a solid down payment on Nevada's continued oversight" of the proposed dump at Yucca Mountain.
Miller, a longtime foe of the federal dump, added the IFC vote provides more time to debate with the federal Department of Energy over the funding it's supposed to provide Nevada.
Miller is chairman of the state Board of Examiners, which earlier had approved the full $1.2 million for the state oversight office. That would have been enough to carry the office through next March.
The U.S. Department of Energy has frozen $691,000 in federal funds that the Nevada agency intended to spend, leaving it with only enough to operate.