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The U.S. District Court in Nevada ruled this March that the state must begin processing permits that would allow the Department of Energy to conduct scientific studies on Yucca Mountain, the heavily debated proposed location of the nation's nuclear waste repository. The studies will determine the stability of the site, located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Carl Gertz, DOE's director of the Yucca Mountain Project, is careful to say that processing the permits does not mean issuing the permits. Beatrice Reilley, of the same office, adds that it is “debatable” whether or not the state is making progress in processing the permits.