Sandoval, Moniz to meet Aug. 13 in Las Vegas

UPDATED BELOW SEVERAL TIMES:

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will meet with Gov. Brian Sandoval on Aug. 13 in Las Vegas, sources confirmed.

Moniz will be in Nevada for the National Clean Energy Summit, which officials there originally believed the governor would attend but now realize he will not.  But, it now turns out, he has to be in Las Vegas that day to meet with the secretary.

The two have sparred over DOE shipments of nuclear waste.

 

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LATEST UPDATE, 8/6: A week after the secretary of energy said during a Senate committee hearing that he has signed memos from the state of Nevada saying "this (nuclear waste shipments) works with precuations," the DOE has declined to produce them. I have asked repeatedly since last week and have been greeted by "no comment." You would think Sen. Dean Heller, who asked Ernest Moniz questiosn during the hearing, would have followed up. Gov. Brian Sandoval's office tells me they have found no such memos. So do they exist? Can a DOE chief actually make such a claim in an open hearing and not have to back it up? Significance: Imagine if there were memos that the administration in Nevada had agreed to the shipments befroe the governor opposed them? To paraphrase Cuba Gooding, Jr., on this: Show me the memos!

UPDATE: This from Sandoval spokesman Mac Bybee on Moniz's claim of signed memos saying Nevada would take waste:  "The State of Nevada is not aware of any signed memos between the State and DOE regarding the approval of the material in question."

I have also asked the DOE to back up the claim.

UPDATE: So did the state of Nevada actually agree to those shipments from Oak Ridge before it decided to oppose them?

I have learned that after Gov. Brian Sandoval wrote a letter, mostly for media consumption, to Moniz, the secretary’s deputy, Daniel Poneman, met with the governor. I gather there was no need for a release on that…. Actually, the governor's office said it was more of a stop-and-chat at the Western Governors' confab. (ANOTHER UPDATE: I missed the RJ's crack capital reporter Steve Tetreault covering this. No slight intended. But have I mentioned just how awful the "newspaper's" web site is?)

That nugget actually was revealed during a Senate hearing this week in the energy committee when Sen. Dean Heller, in questioning Moniz, fretted about the secretary’s communications with Sandoval about the proposed shipment from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The video is here, and Heller’s questioning begins at the hour and 19-minute mark. Some of it was quite revealing:

Heller:  My concern is if DOE wants a partner in the state of Nevada on activities at the test site, we need DOE to act like a partner and let me explain what I mean by that, Mr. secretary.  I believe the DOE needs to be more responsible and more responsive to the governor of the State, Governor Sandoval.  And I was disappointed that he had to put in repeated requests to discuss this particular issue with you. But I am grateful that that conversation did take place and I hope that there are many more in the future.  Do you recall that conversation that you had with the governor?

Moniz:  I certainly do, senator, and I would like to clarify something for the record.  After the governor’s first letter, the deputy secretary met with him. There were considerable staff discussions and then we had a conversation directly.  And we are also trying to meet in Nevada in August, although our schedules don’t look like they are matching up very well.  But we will get together in August or September.  But I do want to emphasize that the Deputy Secretary meet with him in that intervening period.

Heller:  And I appreciate the clarification on that. I was unaware of that.

Oh?

Moniz makes it clear in a follow-up that he wants to work with the state and has made special, unprecedented dispensations already. When Heller asked what the governor meant by saying they “agree to disagree” on the issue, Moniz said “the extent to which we had the agreement of the state….for this transport.” But the secretary said he has a series of signed memos in which the state agreed to the shipments – “the exchange of memos was 'this works with the special precautions.'" (I am trying, so far without any luck, to obatin the memos from either the governor's office or the DOE.)

Really? That’s interesting.

It’s worth watching – it’s only a few minutes long.