Letter cites objections by the Justice Department to the hiring of Morgan Lewis
July 8, 2008
Washington, DC—Nevada’s congressional delegation today sent a second letter to the Secretary of Energy requesting the Energy Department recuse the law firm Morgan Lewis from performing legal services related to the Yucca Mountain project. This second letter highlights objections by the Department of Justice pertaining to conflicts of interest in the hiring of Morgan Lewis. The Nevada delegation is hopeful this second letter will be given truly serious consideration despite the Energy Department’s failure to respond to a previous letter sent this past April.
The full text of the letter is copied below and a signed copy is attached.
July 8, 2008
The Honorable Samuel Bodman
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
Dear Secretary Bodman:
On April 15, 2008, we sent you a letter requesting that the Department of Energy recuse the law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius (Morgan Lewis) from performing legal services related to the Yucca Mountain project. In light of new information – that the Department exceeded its authority in waiving Morgan Lewis’s conflicts of interest – we again request that you recuse Morgan Lewis from working on the Yucca Mountain license application.
As you may be aware, the Justice Department recently sent the enclosed letter to the DOE’s Inspector General, stating that the Department never “consulted with or even notified the Department of Justice before entering into an agreement that involved significant conflicts of interest affecting the United States… or executing the purported conflicts waiver.” Furthermore, the letter explains that “the Department of Justice, not DOE, possesses plenary authority over matters in Federal court litigation, and DOE could not waive objections by the Department of Justice regarding Morgan Lewis’s conflicts.”
The Justice Department’s opinion is clear and unequivocal. The Department of Energy had no authority to waive Morgan Lewis’s conflicts of interest with respect to its representation of nuclear utilities in spent nuclear fuel litigation. Permitting Morgan Lewis to continue representing the DOE on the Yucca Mountain license application would challenge the DOJ’s authority over matters that are solely under its jurisdiction. Worse, it would demonstrate to the American public that the DOE is willing to use any means necessary to build a repository at Yucca Mountain, including running roughshod over the rights of Nevadans and trampling the authority of the Department of Justice.
While the Department of Energy never responded to our first request, we are hopeful that you take this second request for recusal of Morgan Lewis much more seriously. Thank you for addressing our concerns.
Harry Reid John Ensign
U.S. Senator U.S. Senator