Alan Wilson briefs reporters on February 19, 2013.
By Mary Orndorff Troyan, Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - A court decision that reinstated Yucca Mountain, Nev., as a candidate for storing nuclear waste marked a legal victory for states over the federal government, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said Thursday.
"I was happy when a federal appeals court basically said... this administration ran afoul of the law by withdrawing Yucca's application," Wilson said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
Wilson was one of four Republican attorneys general who participated in a panel about the battles between states and federal officials over rules and laws involving health care, energy, labor and the environment.
"The federal government no longer sees the states as equal partners," Wilson said. "That's why we are fighting."
South Carolina was among states that filed suit during President Barack Obama's first term when the Energy Department halted its analysis of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in the Nevada desert.
Wilson said his case was about the rule of law, not politics. But he also said he personally wants the Yucca Mountain site to be approved, and he wants nuclear waste now stored in South Carolina to be moved out.
"It's a national security issue," Wilson said. "I would rather have nuclear waste stored in one location than 100."
Oconee Nuclear Station and the Savannah River Site in Aiken both store waste. Gov. Nikki Haley, members of the state's congressional delegation, and Duke Energy support the Yucca site.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may or may not approve Yucca Mountain as the nation's repository, but Wilson said he wants the process to play out. He said the state is the third-highest-paying state into the government fund that is supposed to pay for the work on licensing a site. Those fees are charged to consumers through their utility bills.
It's doubtful the commission has enough money to complete its review of Yucca Mountain, and the process will likely depend on additional appropriations from Congress.
Wilson said his travel to Washington was paid for by the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Other attorneys general on the panel were Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma.