Judge blasts Bush decision on Goshute Band nuclear waste facility
A federal judge ordered the Interior Department to reconsider a controversial plan for a nuclear waste storage facility proposed by the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians of Utah.

Judge David M. Ebel said top Bush administration officials acted in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner when they rejected a lease for the facility and a rail line to the reservation. Ebel said former associate deputy Interior secretary Jim Cason and another official took it upon themselves to decide what was in the tribe's best interests.

The two decisions "did not defer to the band’s determination of its best interests, to the maximum extent possible," Ebel wrote in his ruling, which was released yesterday. He ordered DOI to reconsider both decisions.

The tribe signed a lease with Private Fuel Storage to store up to 44,000 tons of nuclear waste on a 100-acre site on the reservation. The waste would be located on an 18-acre portion of the site.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a license for the project. But DOI officials tried to get the tribe to drop plans and at one point, former deputy secretary J. Steven Griles offered to add land to the reservation and expand hunting and fishing rights.

Politicians in Utah took credit for lobbying the Bush administration against the project.

Get the Story:
Judge's ruling may boost nuke storage in Utah (The Salt Lake Tribune 7/27)

Related D.C. Circuit Decision:
OGD v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (June 26, 2007)

Interior Decision Documents:
Skull Valley Band Nuclear Waste Repository

Related Stories:
Judge holds hearing over rejected Goshute nuclear dump (3/23)
Skull Valley Goshutes sue DOI over lease rejection (7/18)
Court puts off challenge to Goshute nuclear (6/27)
Interior called Goshute chairman on cell phone (09/14)
Goshute chairman blasts Interior on waste deal (9/13)
Editorial: Interior, the imprudent trustee (9/11)
Interior rejects Skull Valley nuclear waste dump (9/8)
Goshute Tribe rejects Griles deal as 'disingenuous' (4/24)