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Nevada OKs $5.1M legal contract for Yucca Mountain fight

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s Board of Examiners has approved a $5.1 million contract with an outside legal team to help fight President Donald Trump’s proposal to restart the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The panel chaired by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval voted unanimously this week to extend the state’s contract for another two years with the Austin, Texas-based firm Egan, Fitzpatrick, Malsch & Lawrence, the Nevada Appeal reported.

Robert Halstead, the head of Nevada’s Nuclear Projects Agency, said the state lacks the expertise in dealing with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do the work itself.

For the second year in a row, Trump’s budget request to Congress includes $120 million for the Department of Energy to resume efforts to license the mothballed waste project.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a Republican running for governor, said he believes between his office, the contract law firm and Halstead’s agency, “we have the best legal, technical team this state could ask for right now.”

Sandoval, who completes his second and final term this year, said the battle has been going on since he was in the Nevada Assembly more than 20 years ago.

“It’s deja vu all over again,” Sandoval said. “We have to maintain the vigor, the ferocity, the tenacity” to resist the Trump administration’s proposal.

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