- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry used to brag about how often his state sued to try to stop the Obama administration.

Texas is still suing, but now it’s Mr. Perry, the newly minted Energy Department secretary, who’s facing the lawsuit, as the state demands repayment of billions of dollars the federal government has collected to build a nuclear waste depository.

The Nevada site, known as Yucca Mountain, has been stalled for years, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says if the feds aren’t going to build it, they must return the cash.

“Either build the site in Yucca or build it somewhere else or give us our money back, but don’t keep taking our money and not using it for what you said you were going to use it for,” said Mr. Paxton.

He also said it was an odd situation to be suing his former governor, who, as head of the Energy Department, is now in charge of the Yucca project.

“He wasn’t all that excited about us suing him,” Mr. Paxton said.

Mr. Perry’s office didn’t return a request for comment.

But during his confirmation hearing, Mr. Perry said he hoped to kick-start the project, which has been ensnared in court battles and blocked by powerful opponents.

Texas filed 48 lawsuits challenging the Obama administration, with nearly half of those coming in the last two years, after Mr. Paxton became attorney general. And the state won about a third of the challenges that have gone to a final resolution, with many still pending.

But even with the change in power, Texas has found policies it objects to, challenging President Trump’s administration with five lawsuits so far.

Mr. Paxton said the cases essentially deal with disputes left over from the previous administration.

The lawsuits are chiefly over environmental policy, including challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s sulfur dioxide designations and enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

As for the Yucca lawsuit, Mr. Paxton says the federal government has for decades collected fees from nuclear power generators, with the intent to spend the money on a permanent central-disposal facility.

The government has determined Yucca Mountain is the best location, but after three decades it hasn’t licensed the site. Texas wants the money to be returned if the project doesn’t move forward.

“They were supposed to have it years ago, and they’ve been taking money from the states for it,” said Mr. Paxton. “We figure we’re out $1.5 billion, so we sued them.”

Jim Granato, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said this lawsuit is all about Texas trying to get Mr. Perry to accelerate the project, and he thinks Texas will be successful.

“They’re going to do what the Obama administration wouldn’t do, and they’ll start spending the money,” said Mr. Granato.

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