February 25, 2020
Opportunities for NEPA Reform at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Because nuclear power is both a low-carbon and reliable energy source, it could be a valuable component of an any climate policy. Yet the development of new nuclear power production faces a number of challenges — particularly because it is so expensive. A proposal from the Trump Administration’s Council on Environmental Quality will allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to reform its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations in order to reduce delays and costs of projects. AAF’s Director of Regulatory Policy Dan Bosch explains the current issues with environmental reviews and lists recommendations for NRC NEPA reform.
The NRC should consider establishing deadlines within the environmental review, adhering to page limits, and leveraging applicant documents. In addition, it could limit the development of alternative scenarios and the rehashing of the underlying components of environmental reviews at its final licensing hearings.
Taken together, these recommendations will help reduce delays in the NRC’s environmental review process and the risks to projects. These reductions will accordingly help make new nuclear reactors more economically viable.