United States Senate

June 5, 1998

Mr. Brian McKay, Chairman
Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects
Capitol Complex
Carson City, Nevada 89710

Dear Chairman McKay:

We are writing to express our support for your efforts to obtain emergency funding for the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects and the important work the Agency is doing to oversee the federal government's high-level radioactive waste management program. The decision by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) first to withhold oversight funds for the Agency beginning in 1995 and, most recently, to freeze funds available to the Agency from prior congressional appropriations threatens to leave the State without the ability to oversee the Yucca Mountain repository project and related federal activities.

It is apparent to us that the decision to freeze remaining oversight funds represents a blatant attempt to silence the State of Nevada's oversight entity, which has effectively carried out research and produced evidence of serious problems that make Yucca Mountain unsuitable as a repository for spent fuel and high-level wastes. We believe it is no coincidence that the funding freeze is being imposed just at the time when legislation to designate the Nevada Test Site as the location for an above ground, spent fuel interim storage site is being resurrected in Congress. Nevada's oversight program is the one remaining source of independent information about geotechnical, transportation, and related issues associated with the federal program.

It is our hope that a strong, independent oversight program can continue in Nevada. Permitting the State program to disband due to DOE's funding manipulations would send the wrong message to Congress at this critical time. By the same token, strong and decisive action by the State Board of Examiners and the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee to assure the continued operation and independence of the Agency for Nuclear Projects will communicate to Congress and the commercial nuclear power industry that Nevada cannot be intimidated by the heavy handed methods being employed by DOE and that our State's opposition to the Yucca Mountain project and to the proposed spent fuel interim storage facility remains strong and determined.

The Nevada congressional delegation stands united on this issue, and we lend our wholehearted support to your efforts to obtain State funds for the Agency for Nuclear Projects' important oversight activities.