BLOG POST

Up & Atom

A bipartisan group of four senators has introduced a bill that would amend the Atomic Energy Act to require the US Department of Energy (DOE) to submit to Congress quarterly reports providing information about industry’s and DOE’s activities under 10 CFR Part 810. The first part of the bill suggests that DOE would only report to Congress on “each authorization issued” under Part 810, which suggests that DOE could limit its reporting to specific authorizations that DOE actually granted in the prior 90 days.

However, the remainder of the bill states that DOE would provide Congress with a summary of each application for a Part 810 specific authorization and an annex that contains: 1) a copy of the specific authorization application; and 2) a copy of each report received in the previous 90 days for any general or specific authorization. The bill also would require that the initial quarterly report include all specific authorizations granted and all generally—and specifically—authorized activities reported from March 25, 2015, through the date of enactment. (March 25, 2015, is the date that the most recent wholesale revisions to Part 810 went into effect.) Subsequent reports to Congress would be due every 90 days thereafter and cover the activities during those 90 days.

Each of the reports would be required to include a summary including details regarding: (1) whether the application for a specific authorization was accepted or rejected; (2) who the applicant was; and (3) the purpose for which the applicant sought a specific authorization. The bill would require each report to include an annex containing each specific authorization applications and all reports of generally authorized activities under 10 CFR 810.12 submitted during the 90-day period. The US Department of State would be required to approve each report before DOE can submit them. Reports would be submitted to the chairman and ranking members of the committees with jurisdiction over DOE (both the House and Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Energy and Commerce Committees, and the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees).

On the heels of recent tension between Congress and the administration over nuclear technology exports, the bill also would establish a 10-day deadline for DOE to respond to a Congressional request for any pending authorization applications or Part 810 reports. No bill has yet been introduced in the House of Representatives.

The legislation is silent about proprietary treatment of the information submitted by the nuclear industry to the DOE that is subsequently provided to Congress. Requiring DOE to submit a separate annex for copies of applications could suggest that the annex would be withheld from public disclosure, but DOE’s summary report would not.

Morgan Lewis will continue to monitor further developments on this legislation.

Law clerk Ariel Braunstein contributed to this post.