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Federal Court Says U.S. Must Complete Yucca Mountain Review

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Obama administration is breaking the law by delaying its review of a plan to store nuclear waste in Nevada. The court ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must complete its licensing process — that is, approve or reject — the Energy Department's plan for the waste site in Nevada.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's original job was to issue or deny a license to build a nuclear waste dump inside Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

"But in 2011, the commission ended its licensing process, in part because president Obama vowed the government would never build the dump. Authorities in Washington State and South Carolina, where much of the waste destined for Yucca Mountain is currently stored, brought suit.

"They claimed that the decision to abandon the licensing process violated federal law. By a 2-1 vote a three-judge panel agreed and ordered regulators resume licensing. The commission is now reviewing that decision, but even if Yucca Mountain were approved, the government has no immediate plans to build it."

As Reuters reports, this decision was expected.

"The court signaled in a decision last year that it would likely rule against the commission unless Congress specifically voted to terminate the project," Reuters writes. Congress has not taken action on the issue.

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