Former Idaho Governors Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt threatened on Thursday to sue the U.S. Energy Department to prevent what they said was its efforts to turn the state into “a nuclear waste dumping ground.”

In a letter notifying the Energy Department of a possible lawsuit, the pair accused it of violating a federal environmental law by planning to ship spent nuclear fuel from elsewhere for study at the Idaho National Laboratory, the department’s flagship nuclear research facility.

A 1995 agreement hammered out between Idaho and the Energy Department bans shipments of commercial spent nuclear fuel. The deal stemmed from previous lawsuits by Andrus, a Democrat, and Batt, a Republican, that charged the U.S. government with seeking to turn the sprawling lab complex near Idaho Falls into a de facto dumping ground for radioactive waste.

In January, Idaho’s current governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, and state Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, both Republicans, expressed conditional support for the shipment of some spent nuclear fuel to the lab for a research program, which would raise the facility’s profile and boost the eastern part of the state’s economy.

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