Nuke Waste Budget Approved

By Geoff Dornan, Nevada Appeal
May 21, 1999

The embattled state Office of Nuclear Projects will get its budget restored.

The Senate Finance Committee voted Thursday to join the Assembly Ways and Means Committee in supporting the $3.8 million budget the governor recommended for the coming two years.

The agency headed by Bob Loux ran into financial problems after the federal government pulled back $691,000 in federal funds saying Nevada was spending money illegally by pushing its case against locating the nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain. After that, the Interim Finance Committee cut the agency back to just enough money to keep its doors open until the session.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, arguing that the state must continue the battle to keep nuclear waste out of the state, put Loux's budget in his executive spending plan and the Ways and Means Committee approved it some time ago.

The administration argued this is a critical year in the battle against Yucca Mountain since the environmental impact statement on the project is due. Loux says the state must also aggressively continue its fight against locating the temporary storage site at the Nevada Test Site, which is again before Congress.

The Senate finally and a bit grudgingly agreed to support the funding Thursday.

"I commend the governor for sticking to the fight," said Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, in making the motion.

Only Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, who is a former employee of a test site contractor, opposed the budget.

The budget includes more than $1 million a year in state funds plus $400,000 a year in highway fund money and another $320,000 in federal funds.

The total budget for the agency to continue battling the federal Department of Energy and the nuclear power industry is $3,787,219. Since both committees have now closed the budget the same way, the nuclear projects agency is now included in the final budget.

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