Nevada Congressional Delegation calls on Energy Department to recuse conflicted firm
April 3, 2008
Washington, D.C. – A scathing report released today by the Department of Energy's (DOE) own Inspector General shows that the Energy Department did not act in the public's best interest when it knowingly hired a law firm with clear conflicts of interest to represent the Yucca Mountain Project. The DOE awarded a $100 million no-bid contract to Morgan Lewis & Bockius to assist in drafting a license application for the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain despite the fact it also represents major utilities in lawsuits against the DOE.
"This report demonstrates the lengths that the Department of Energy is willing to go to push forward a failed policy at Yucca Mountain," said Ensign. "Lowering the bar to hire the chosen law firm of the nuclear industry sets a dangerous precedent. It is unfortunate that the people of Nevada remain far from the minds of Department of Energy officials, and this report confirms that."
"This report makes clear that DOE blatantly violated its own policies in order to award a $100 million sweetheart deal to a firm drowning in special interest conflicts from lucrative deals with the nuclear industry. When DOE learned that its own policies prevented the awarding of this no bid contract to Morgan Lewis, they just torched the rulebook. Either DOE should drop Morgan Lewis or the firm should take its own name out of the running based on these findings from the Energy Department's own internal investigators," said Rep. Berkley. "Once again, Nevadans are witnessing the extraordinary lengths that the Bush White House will go to in order to bury Nevada in toxic nuclear waste. What's another $100 million dollars when the Bush Yucca Mountain plan already tops $80 billion?"
"The Department of Energy's internal investigation has made it crystal clear that there was a choice of whether to award a $100 million contract to a firm who had a conflict of interest or a firm who did not," said Porter. "DOE set aside the public's best interest and chose Morgan Lewis whose loyalties lie with the nuclear industry and not with the American taxpayer. Impartiality and objectivity are cornerstones in maintaining public confidence. Those are commitments that DOE has held in contempt. It is beyond debate that immediate recusal of Morgan Lewis' services is critical."
"This report highlights the blatant disregard for the public good. The Energy Departments' misuse of taxpayer money to hire Morgan Lewis underscores the lengths DOE will go to push this flawed project. DOE has made one mistake after another over the course of the Yucca Mountain project," said Heller.
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