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Up & Atom

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is impacted by the partial government shutdown, and is now operating under the special procedures set forth in its December 10, 2018, notice (83 Fed. Reg. 63540) that anticipated a potential funding hiatus. In order to comply with the Antideficiency Act, the OFR will not publish routine notices, but rather it is requiring that agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certify that any notice to be published in the Federal Register meets an applicable exemption for “emergencies involving the safety of human life or protection of property.” By the express language in 31 USC § 1342, as amended in 1990, this exemption “does not include ongoing, regular functions of government the suspension of which would not imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property.” Therefore, the NRC staff has indicated that publication of a notice for a licensing action, such as a notice of an application for a license amendment, could be delayed due to the above limitations.

Thus, even though the NRC has funding and can prepare routine Federal Register notices required for various licensing actions, these notices ordinarily will not be submitted for publication. Instead, publication may be delayed until the partial government shutdown ends. If a licensee requires expedited action on a licensing action that requires a Federal Register notice, it may need to explore with the NRC staff whether the action can qualify as an emergency "involving the safety of human life or protection of property."