A panel comprised of members from three rural Nevada counties wants $330,000 to conduct studies of a proposed rail line that would carry nuclear waste shipments to a planned repository at Yucca Mountain.
The Central Nevada Community Protection Working Group would also use the cash to survey people who live near the proposed rail line as well as to gauge the route's economic impact, the Las Vegas Sun reported Friday.
The group, which includes members of the Caliente City Council and Nye, Esmeralda and Lincoln county commissions, was formed in January after the Energy Department designated the Caliente route as its preferred rail line.
The governments represented in the group have talked about negotiating with the DOE to receive benefits from the proposed Yucca Mountain repository, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
"I'm against (the Yucca Mountain project) but I feel it's inevitable and I've got to look out for the residents of Lincoln County to get whatever we can," said county Commissioner Tommy Rowe, a member of the panel.
But others, including ranchers who strongly oppose the plan to bury 77,000 tons of radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, say negotiating is inconceivable.
The proposed studies are part of a long-standing "prescribed program" by the DOE to drum up support for the proposed rail corridor, said Bob Loux, executive director of the state Office of Nuclear Projects, which opposes the project.
"It's part of an agenda to make everyone feel like the project is inevitable," Loux said. "Once (the DOE does) that they know we can't stop the project."
If approved, the federal government would provide the group with $150,000 to hire consultants to survey landowners and users near the proposed rail corridor; $80,000 to collect data on economic development opportunities along the rail line; and $100,000 to coordinate tasks and to provide a "vision" report.
"We're trying to get feedback based on concern from our constituent groups," Nye County Commissioner Candice Trummell said of the plan to poll rural residents. "We are working with (the Department of Energy) to make it as mutually beneficial as possible."