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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed a Trump administration decision involving use of nuclear materials. On June 30, the EPA announced that it was “withdrawing, revoking and rescinding” its conditional approval of The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) request to approve the use of phosphogypsum (PG) in road construction. PG is a radioactive byproduct of fertilizer production and is regulated by the EPA. This action follows the EPA’s earlier announcement that it is reviewing a Trump administration decision on cleanup standards for radionuclide-contaminated effluent at a Tennessee Superfund site, which we reported on. Together, the two decisions confirm that the EPA continues to scrutinize prior agency decisions and to more strictly regulate radioactive materials.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced a site-specific review that has broader implications for Superfund site cleanups with radionuclide contamination. The EPA is reviewing a Trump-era decision on the applicability of water quality regulations for radionuclide-contaminated effluent from a Tennessee Superfund site. This review could result in reversing the prior determination that the Clean Water Act’s (CWA’s) technology-based effluent limits do not apply. If the EPA reverses this decision, it could signal that the EPA is looking to impose more stringent standards for the cleanup and discharge of radionuclide-contaminated water at other sites.
The NRC recently published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comments on possible amendments to its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations on categorical exclusions. Comments are due by July 21, 2021.
The NRC published a notice of a petition for rulemaking from the Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee (TRMTC) in the Federal Register on April 9 asking the NRC to revise 10 CFR Part 37 to require that licensees provide advanced notification to participating tribal governments of certain radioactive material shipments that will cross a tribe’s reservation.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Staff has sought the Commission’s approval to initiate a rulemaking to update the agency’s environmental protection regulations for licensing activities.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, includes the Energy Act of 2020 (Energy Act) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Taxpayer Act), which contains tax provisions important to the energy sector.
In a recently issued NRC adjudicatory decision, the Commission reaffirmed its regulatory interpretation allowing power reactor licensees applying for subsequent license renewal (SLR), and the NRC Staff reviewing these applications, to rely on the NRC’s Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants (GEIS). Two of the five Commissioners dissented, however, arguing this interpretation violates the NRC’s obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently published in the Federal Register a final rule, Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. The final rule is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Trump administration and the CEQ to “modernize and clarify” the CEQ’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementing regulations to “facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews by Federal agencies in connection with proposals for agency action.”
The NRC Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) recently issued Revision 4 to Office Instruction LIC-203, “Procedural Guidance for Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments, and Considering Environmental Issues.” The update reflects recent NRC organizational changes and internal procedures related to the agency’s environmental review activities. These changes do not impose any new obligations on NRC applicants. However, a proper understanding of the agency’s internal processes can be helpful in developing successful licensing strategies. The key changes are summarized below.
Our energy lawyers have prepared a LawFlash addressing the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), “Update to the Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act,” published today in the Federal Register by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).